But key decisions such as where the fund should be by HC120929025331


									                             THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS
                                  Friday, 24 August 2012
                       UNEP and the Executive Director in the News

        Guardian (UK): Green Climate Fund to discuss $100bn pledged by rich countries
        Hindu Business online (India): India Inc less transparent than peers in Brazil, China
        Inquirer (Philippines): Cayetano: UN report acknowledged as source in speech on
        Boxscore News (US): When sport can serve UN purposes, the London 2012 Olympic
         and Paralympic Games

                                 Other Environment News

       Reuters: UN green climate fund, meant to aid poor, holds first talks
       AFP: Peru seizes 16,000 dried seahorses headed to Asia
       Reuters: Greenpeace says six activists climb Russia's Arctic oil platform
       Guardian (UK): Arctic sea ice levels to reach record low within days
       BBC News (UK): Antarctica warmth 'unusual, but not unique'
       ABC News (Australia): Alpha coal mine nod 'devastating' for reef
       Montreal Gazette (Canada): Federal government cancels 3,000 environmental
        reviews on pipelines, other projects
       Times of India: Environment ministry writes to plan panel, asks it to rework climate
        change chapter
       New York Times (US): Japanese Leader Meets With Antinuclear Protesters
       Independent online (South Africa): Race against time to save rhino
       Eco-seed (US): Genetically modified algae should be studied for possible negative
        effects on environment
       Herald (Zimbabwe): Govt Appears Divided Over Conservancy Leases
       Daily News (Sri-lanka): Efforts to control oil spill from Cyprus vessel
       Bellona (Russia): Dismal spill findings on Russian state oil giant should give
        Norwegian partner Statoil pause
       Jamaican observer (Jamaica): J'cans win regional energy contest
       Global Times (China): Voices on fairness and transparency in environment

                                   Selected Blog Posts

       Guardian (UK): Would anyone buy ivory if they had witnessed this cruel
                      Environmental News from the UNEP Regions
      ROAP
      RONA
      ROA (None)
      ROLAC (None)
      ROWA (None)

                                     Other UN News

      Environment News from the UN Daily News of 24 August 2012
      Environment News from the S.G.’s Spokesman Daily Press Briefing of 23 August
       2012 (None)

                     UNEP and the Executive Director in the News

Guardian (UK): Green Climate Fund to discuss $100bn pledged by rich countries

23 August 2012

The fate of billions of dollars of promised funding from rich countries to help the
developing world adapt to climate change will be discussed on Thursday in Geneva, at
the first meeting of the UN's Green Climate Fund.

The fund is meant to be the biggest single funding route for the $100bn (£63bn) that
developed countries have pledged should flow to poor nations each year by 2020, to
help them cut greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the effects of global warming.

But key decisions – such as where the fund should be headquartered, who should run it,
how it will operate and how it can raise funds – will be delayed for months.

On Thursday morning, the initial meeting, delayed by months as governments
procrastinated, began with the election of a developing and a developed country co-
chair. These were the South African representative Zaheer Fakir and Australia's Ewen
McDonald, who had been favourite to win the post. They will jointly chair the fund for its
first year. Fakir is head of international relations and governance at the South African
Department of Environmental Affairs, while McDonald is deputy director general of the
Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).

A final decision on the GCF's location – Germany, Namibia, and other countries have
all offered to be the host – is understood to be unlikely before the end of the year.

All of the other important issues around the GCF, including how much money it is likely
to have to disburse and how it will raise funds from the private sector, are matters of
contention. The fund is unlikely to have much sway over the initial round of "fast-start"
financing from rich to poor countries that was agreed at the Copenhagen summit in
2009. Most of the $30bn (£19bn) pledged at Copenhagen has now been committed,
and most of it is already earmarked for various projects. For instance, the UK is on track
to provide £1.5bn between 2010-13 and about £1bn of this has already been
committed to bilateral and multilateral projects developed with poor countries, or is
being channelled through existing funding routes.

Given this, it is unclear whether the GCF will have access to much financing in the next
few years, even though it is envisaged to be the world's single biggest source of
financing for climate change mitigation and adaptation by 2020.

In the longer term, the prospects for substantial funding are even less clear: it will have
to raise money from both governments and the private sector but at present there is no
agreement on how it might do so.

Although the $100bn a year was agreed at Copenhagen, and confirmed at Cancun in
2010, the GCF will be only one source among many for those funds. Private sector and
government cash flowing through other routes will also count towards the $100bn goal.

One major source of contention in the discussions is that some developing country
governments want to limit the fund, so that contributions from the public sector come
only from "traditional donors". That is, the countries labelled as developed in the original
UN climate treaties of 1992 and the Kyoto protocol of 1997. This is an important
distinction, as it would mean that China, the world's second biggest economy, and
other rapidly growing countries such as South Korea, Singapore and many Middle
Eastern nations, despite their high incomes per capita, would be excluded from
contributing. Developed nations including the US and the UK insist that this distinction
should not apply to the fund. Although the GCF has been under discussion for years,
with governments agreeing in principle at Copenhagen to set it up, the complexities of
the climate negotiations have stalled its development. However, the delays increase
the political risk around the project: for instance, the US under a Republican president
or Congress is unlikely to be willing to commit substantial sums to the fund.

As the US presidential campaign has progressed, the White House has not made
climate change negotiations a major issue. The administration's special envoy for
climate change, Todd Stern, caused consternation several weeks ago when he
appeared to suggest, in a speech at Dartmouth College in the US, that the long term
goal of holding global warming to no more than 2C above pre-industrial levels – the
underpinning principle of the Copenhagen accord, Cancun agreement, and last
year's agreement at Durban - could be abandoned.

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Hindu Business online (India): India Inc less transparent than peers in Brazil, China

23 August 2012

India Inc is less transparent than its peers in Brazil, China and South Africa when it comes
to reporting about economic, social, environmental and governance issues concerning
their business, according to a non-profit organisation working for a sustainable global

But 80 companies in India that have set up a reporting mechanism come up with the
best disclosures worldwide, says the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).

A sustainability report is an organisational report that gives information about a
company’s economic, environmental, social and governance performance. GRI says for
companies and organisations, sustainability — the capacity to endure, or be maintained
— is based on performance in these four key areas. Among the lead adopters of this
practice in India are Larsen & Toubro, JSW Steel and the Mahindra Group.

“It actually benefits everyone. It benefits the business, because through a reporting
requirement, a company can review its weak points, opportunities and risks across
governance issues. Measuring and reviewing continually can help improve the
company,” says Aditi Haldar, Director of the GRI’s Focal Point India, on sustainability

The GRI argues that sustainability reporting is a vital step for change toward a global
economy that combines long-term profitability with social justice and environmental

Do Indian companies really have such a poor track record when it comes to corporate
social responsibility and environmental protection? A review of the annual reports of
Sensex-listed companies reveals that most companies devote at least some space to
outline their CSR activities and research and development initiatives to conserve energy
and safeguard the environment.

But for the GRI, these disclosures are not up to the benchmark it has set and popularised
globally — through strategic partnerships with the United Nations Environment
Programme, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and
International Organisation for Standardisation — for sustainability reporting.

“We have a standard framework — the sustainability reporting guidelines or GRI
guidelines. Disclosures should be across the triple bottomline: environmental, social,
economic and governance,” says Haldar. “It must be a separate report,” she stresses.
Clearly, the Indian authorities line of thinking mirrors GRI’s mindset. Market regulator SEBI
on August 13 came out with a comprehensive format for sustainability reporting by Indian
companies, which makes it mandatory for the 100 largest companies to furnish a
separate report alongside their annual report that details efforts to social and
environmental concerns, governance issues, energy conservation, utilisation of small
local suppliers and recycling, among other parameters.

SEBI has directed the top 100 companies to bring out sustainability reports from the next
financial year and the requirement will be gradually expanded to other listed entities.

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Inquirer (Philippines): Cayetano: UN report acknowledged as source in speech
on environment

23 August 2012

Repeatedly quoting a United Nations report throughout an entire speech would be
tedious. Would not an acknowledgment of the source in the first part of the speech

Senator Pia Cayetano said a speech she gave on World Environment Day
acknowledged the UN Environment Program (UNEP) as her source of information.

 “If you will read it, from the very first paragraph, I acknowledged UNEP and from there, I
defined (its) programs. (My critics) are saying I should acknowledge (UNEP) in every
sentence during the speech. That would be difficult (“mahirap naman ‘yun”),” the
senator said in an ambush interview on Thursday.

Cayetano admitted that when the speech was uploaded, her staff used an “old”
WordPress program that apparently failed to accommodate footnotes that would
have acknowledged UNEP as her source.

The senator said her staff already made the “appropriate corrections” although she
added that the UN has always encouraged the “free use of its material.”

A group of local bloggers called Pinoy Templars took Cayetano to task earlier this week
for allegedly taking quotes used in her speech on the environment quoting UNEP and
another on maternal health from “at least two” sources with “nary an attribution.”

The bloggers said Cayetano also did not recognize Health Undersecretary Mario
Villaverde when she used information from his presentation on maternal health

The senator however, said the second speech dated February 2011 was not delivered
at all.

“I wish the one who blogged made a little effort to check this out. You see, the speech
was never delivered on the floor,” Cayetano said in Filipino.

The senator recalled a request made in relation to International Women’s Day.

Cayetano never read the speech on the floor but merely “ad libbed” some lines “on
the rights of mothers” when the Senate observed the occasion.

“And then I showed a video clip,” she said.

The senator added that the speech was still uploaded by a media officer despite this.
That the employee failed to put in footnotes was a simple “technical glitch…but I have
always acknowledged that proper footnoting should be there,” she added.

 “This is such a simple issue. I find it quite malicious that (the bloggers) would try to
impute malice in this. But rest assured to all writers and bloggers that your literary work
should always be accredited and acknowledged,” Cayetano told reporters.

Apart from Cayetano, Senate majority leader Tito Sotto was also accused of delivering
a speech last week where lines from a US blogger’s post on the dangers of
contraceptives were lifted without acknowledging the one who wrote it.

His chief of staff admitted the wrongdoing, but quickly said Sotto could not be held
accountable since it was their researchers who failed to acknowledge the blogger.

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Boxscore News (US): When sport can serve UN purposes, the London 2012
Olympic and Paralympic Games

23 August 2012

With the Olympics just finishing and the Paralympics about to begin, the 2012 London
Games are demonstrating once again how sport can be used for humanitarian,
development and peacebuilding efforts.

The UN Office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP), with offices in Geneva
and New York, has been part of these efforts, working closely with UN system sister
organizations, the London Games Organizing Committee, the UK Government and the
International Olympic and Paralympic Committees to channel the publicity and
excitement of the Games for the promotion of development and peacebuilding

In connection with the world event, a number of initiatives are being carried out by UN
system organizations, such as the Giving is Winning project by UNHCR, where clothing is
collected and sent to refugee camps, UNESCO’s presentation of the documentary The
War on Doping, UNEP’s work on making the Games more sustainable and
environmentally-friendly, WHO’s contribution to disease prevention and control, and
UNICEF’s UK active contribution to the London 2012 official legacy programme
‘International Inspiration’.

These are great examples of how the UN system can get involved and take advantage
of the popularity of the Games. During the upcoming Paralympic Games, more activities
are planned, in particular highlighting and fostering issues pertaining to the well-being,
empowerment and inclusion of persons living with a disability.
Attending the opening of the Olympics at the end of last month were several UN Officials,
including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his Special Adviser on Sport for
Development and Peace Wilfried Lemke, with both also taking part in the traditional
Olympic torch run.

They made great efforts to raise awareness to the Olympic Truce Resolution, which was
adopted and co-sponsored by all 193 UN Member States for the 2012 Games. This
Resolution called for all warring parties to lay down their weapons during the Olympic
and Paralympic Games and focus on unity and reconciliation.

The SG also recorded a video message which was played in the stadium during the
Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games, highlighting the power of the Olympic Truce.
In his words, "one day of peace can lead to a week of peace, a month of peace and
eventually an end to war."

"This office is excited to work with UN partners and with the organizers of future mega-
sport events such as the Olympic and Paralympic Games and the football World Cup to
make sure these events are catalysts for positive change in the host countries and
around the world, ranging from sustainable development to social inclusion and peace,"
said Mr. Lemke.

The UNOSDP staff works to promote and mobilize sport and physical activity as cost-
efficient tools to advance the UN’s goals, missions and values throughout the world. This
ranges from coordinating collaboration efforts between the UN system, Member States,
inter-governmental organizations and other key stakeholders to sharing information with
programmes, organizations and the media about best practices.

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                               Other Environment News

Reuters: UN green climate fund, meant to aid poor, holds first talks

23 August 2012

Leaders of a U.N. green fund meant to channel billions of dollars to help developing
economies cope with climate change met for the first time on Thursday after months of

The 24-strong board began 3-day talks in Geneva, trying to decide where the fund will
be based and other details, officials said. Ways to extract planned new aid from the
anaemic economies of rich countries will be left for later meetings.

Developed nations agreed in 2009 to raise climate aid, now about $10 billion a year, to
an annual $100 billion from 2020 to help developing countries curb greenhouse gas
emissions and cope with floods, droughts, heatwaves and rising sea levels.
Once up and running, the Green Climate Fund is meant to manage rising aid flows.
Candidates to host the fund's headquarters are Germany, Mexico, Namibia, Poland,
South Korea and Switzerland.

"The Green Climate Fund can be an important tool in the world's common work to
prevent climate change," Norwegian Deputy Finance Minister Kjetil Lund, a member of
the board, said in a statement on Thursday.

He said developing nations needed aid to spur greener growth that also enables them
to cut greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels. The fund is part of a
wider effort to work out a United Nations deal to combat climate change.

The board's first meeting was delayed by five months because Asian and Latin
American nations took longer than expected to agree on their board members.

"The most important thing is selecting the host country," Omar El-Arini, a member of the
board from Egypt, said of the Geneva talks. He said that the board was due to report
back on the sitting to a U.N. meeting in Doha in late November.

"I don't think there will be any serious discussion of the $100 billion," he added in a
phone briefing earlier this week.

Brandon Wu, of anti-poverty campaigners ActionAid USA, noted that U.S. farmers were
struggling with drought. But the effects of similar weather "are even more severe in
developing countries where there is no crop insurance, no safety nets," he said.

"People living in poverty will suffer most," he said.

The board started its work by electing two co-chairs, Zaheer Fakir of South Africa and
Ewen McDonald of Australia, the fund said in a statement.

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AFP: Peru seizes 16,000 dried seahorses headed to Asia

23 August 2012

More than 16,000 dried seahorses destined for illegal export to Asia, where the animal is
sought for its supposed healing properties, were seized Thursday in Peru's capital Lima,
authorities said.

"We managed to seize... 16,280 seahorses destined to be sold illegally on the Asian
continent," Colonel Victor Fernandez, from the police unit tasked with confiscating such
goods, told AFP.
Police uncovered the cargo, weighing around 160 kilograms (350 pounds), in three
cases in a search operation near the airport in the Peruvian capital.

In Asia, particularly in China, South Korea and Japan, the seahorse -- protected by the
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) -- is coveted for its
alleged medicinal and aphrodisiac properties.

Seahorse powder sells for about $6,000 per kilo, Fernandez said.

Seahorse fishing has been banned in Peru since 2004, and is punishable by two to five
years in prison.

Peruvian authorities last year seized a total of two tonnes of seahorses destined for

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Reuters: Greenpeace says six activists climb Russia's Arctic oil platform

24 August 2012

Activists climbed Gazprom's oil platform in the Arctic overnight to protest against plans
by the Russian energy giant to drill in the environmentally important zone, Greenpeace
said on Friday.

The activists "have taken up positions" on the platform and have enough supplies for
"several days", Greenpeace said.

The group said three inflatable speedboats had approached the platform at the
Prirazlomnoye oil field after 4 a.m. to let six people, including the organization's global
chief Kumi Naidoo, climb it via mooring lines using ropes and ladders.

The Prirazlomnoye field, Russia's first Arctic offshore development, has been plagued by
delays due to cost overruns and platform construction difficulties, with oil now expected
to flow at the turn of the year.

"The only way to prevent a catastrophic oil spill from happening in this unique
environment is to permanently ban all drilling now," Naidoo said.

An eye-witness aboard a Greenpeace ship some 3.5 miles away from the platform said
activists have taken portable tents, along with the supplies.

Gazprom and Gazprom Neft Shelf, a subsidiary holding the Prirazlomnoye license,
declined immediate comment.
Prirazlomnoye is estimated to hold reserves of 526 million barrels and success in
launching Arctic oil exploration is seen vital to sustaining Russia's long-term status as the
world's top oil producer.

But environment campaigners warn Arctic's extreme conditions - remoteness, fragile
ecosystems, darkness, sub-zero temperatures, ice, or high winds - are likely to stall any
emergency operations in case of a spill.

Greenpeace will seek to promote a resolution at the United Nations General Assembly
that would declare the Arctic part of the global commons, Naidoo said this month in
Moscow, adding that would prevent any drilling there.

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Guardian (UK): Arctic sea ice levels to reach record low within days

23 August 2012

Arctic sea ice is set to reach its lowest ever recorded extent as early as this weekend, in
"dramatic changes" signalling that man-made global warming is having a major impact
on the polar region.

With the melt happening at an unprecedented rate of more than 100,000 sq km a day,
and at least a week of further melt expected before ice begins to reform ahead of the
northern winter, satellites are expected to confirm the record – currently set in 2007 –
within days.

"Unless something really unusual happens we will see the record broken in the next few
days. It might happen this weekend, almost certainly next week," Julienne Stroeve, a
scientist at the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado,
told the Guardian.

"In the last few days it has been losing 100,000 sq km a day, a record in itself for August.
A storm has spread the ice pack out, opening up water, bringing up warmer water.
Things are definitely changing quickly."

Because ice thickness, volume, extent and area are all measured differently, it may be
a week before there is unanimous agreement among the world's cryologists (ice
experts) that 2012 is a record year. Four out of the nine daily sea ice extent and area
graphs kept by scientists in the US, Europe and Asia suggest that records have already
been broken. "The whole energy balance of the Arctic is changing. There's more heat
up there. There's been a change of climate and we are losing more seasonal ice. The
rate of ice loss is faster than the models can capture [but] we can expect the Arctic to
be ice-free in summer by 2050," said Stroeve.
"Only 15 years ago I didn't expect to see such dramatic changes – no one did. The ice-
free season is far longer now. Twenty years ago it was about a month. Now it's three
months. Temperatures last week in the Arctic were 14C, which is pretty warm."

Scientists at the Danish Meteorological Institute, the Arctic Regional Ocean Observing
System in Norway and others in Japan have said the ice is very close to its minimum
recorded in 2007. The University of Bremen, whose data does not take into account ice
along a 30km coastal zone, says it sees ice extent below the all-time record low of
4.33m sq km recorded in September 2007.

Ice volume in the Arctic has declined dramatically over the past decade. The 2011
minimum was more than 50% below that of 2005. According to the Polar Science
Centre at the University of Washington it now stands at around 5,770 cubic kilometres,
compared with 12,433 cu km during the 2000s and 6,494 cu km in 2011. The ice volume
for 31 July 2012 was roughly 10% below the value for the same day in 2011. A new study
by UK scientists suggests that 900 cu km of summer sea ice has disappeared from the
Arctic ocean over the past year.

The consequences of losing the Arctic's ice coverage for the summer months are
expected to be immense. If the white sea ice no longer reflects sunlight back into
space, the region can be expected to heat up even more than at present. This could
lead to an increase in ocean temperatures with unknown effects on weather systems in
northern latitudes.

In a statement, a Greenpeace spokesman said: "The disappearing Arctic still serves as a
stark warning to us all. Data shows us that the frozen north is teetering on the brink. The
level of ice 'has remained far below average' and appears to be getting thinner,
leaving it more vulnerable to future melting. The consequences of further rapid ice loss
at the top of the world are of profound importance to the whole planet. This is not a
warning we can afford to ignore."

Longer ice-free summers are expected to open up the Arctic ocean to oil and mining
as well as to more trade. This year at least 20 vessels are expected to travel north of
Russia between northern Europe and the Bering straits. Last week a Chinese icebreaker
made the first voyage in the opposite direction.

"Every one of the 56,000 Inuits in Greenland have had to adapt to the retreat of the
ice," said Carl-Christian Olsen, president of the Inuit Circumpolar Council in Nuuk,
Greenland. "The permafrost is melting and this is jeopardising roads and buildings. The
coastline is changing, there is more erosion and storms, and there are fewer mammals
like polar bears. It means there can be more mining, which is good for the economy,
but it will have unpredictable effects on social change".

said that warming in the Antarctic, where temperatures have risen about 1.5C over the
past 50 years, is "unusual" but not unprecedented relative to natural variation. The
research by Robert Mulvaney of the British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, based on an
ice-core record, showed that the warming of the north-eastern Antarctic peninsula
began about 600 years ago. Temperature increases were said to be within the bounds
of natural climate variability.

The difference between the rate of warming at the two poles is attributed to
geographical differences. "Antarctica is a continent surrounded by water, while the
Arctic is an ocean surrounded by land. Wind and ocean currents around Antarctica
isolate the continent from global weather patterns, keeping it cold. In contrast, the
Arctic Ocean is intimately linked with the climate systems around it, making it more
sensitive to changes in climate," said a spokesman for the NSIDC.

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BBC News (UK): Antarctica warmth 'unusual, but not unique'

23 August 2012

The recent Antarctic Peninsula temperature rise and associated ice loss is unusual but
not unprecedented, according to research.

Analysis of a 364m-long ice core containing several millennia of climate history shows
the region previously basked in temperatures slightly higher than today.

However, the peninsula is now warming rapidly, threatening previously stable areas of
ice, the study warns.

The work is reported in Nature journal.
Ronne ice shelf Antarctic Peninsula ice shelves are under increasing threat, with several
recent collapses

The Antarctic Peninsula, the rugged protrusion extending towards South America, is one
of the most rapidly warming places on the planet.

Measurements taken since 1958 show that seasonal temperatures have increased by
around 3C.

This has co-incided with a marked increase in glacial activity and the collapse of
several ice shelves, including Prince Gustav and Larsen A and B.

Ice shelves are floating extensions of the grounded ice covering the continent.

According to the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), ice equivalent to 1,000 years of British
domestic water consumption has been lost over the past half century.
Cores and effect
To determine whether this modern warming is extraordinary, BAS researchers drilled and
analysed an ice core from James Ross Island (JRI). The site was chosen because of its
proximity to recent ice shelf collapses.

An ice core - formed by compaction of previous snowfalls - constitutes a historical
record of the local climate and atmosphere stretching back over thousands of years.
Map of Antarctic The drill site was chosen because of its proximity to recent ice shelf

The JRI ice core, taken in the Antarctic summer of 2008, contained in total about 50,000
years of climate history.

Entombed within the ice core were quantities of a tell-tale type, or isotope, of hydrogen
called deuterium.

  By the time it reaches Antarctica, the deuterium concentration in the air mass will
have fallen
  In cold years, it falls further, so the concentration at different points in the ice core
provides a temperature record

Atoms of deuterium contain a neutron, whereas "normal" hydrogen atoms do not.

By measuring the ratio of "normal" hydrogen to the heavier deuterium, Dr Robert
Mulvaney and his team were able to make a detailed reconstruction of temperatures
spanning the last 15,000 years.

The analysis revealed that 15,000-12,000 years ago, the Antarctic Peninsula
experienced significant warming, becoming about 1C warmer than today.

The region then cooled markedly around 2,500 years ago, and temperatures remained
relatively stable. This co-incided with the late-Holocene development of ice shelves
near JRI.

Around 600 years ago, the peninsula started to warm once more - slowly at first, but
then, from around 1920, much more rapidly.

Average temperatures change slowly - at a rate of roughly 0.1-0.2C per century.

But the research showed that the recent rate of change in the peninsula has been
considerably faster.

Prof Eric Steig from the University of Washington in Seattle has reported similar changes
in West Antarctica.

Commenting on the likely cause, Prof Steig told BBC News: "A fingerprint of forced
climate change - that is, anthropogenic (man-made) forcing of climate by greenhouse
gases - is that it will warm in most places at the same time.
"And that's clearly the fingerprint that we are seeing."

This is a view shared by Prof Peter Nienow, a glaciologist at the University of Edinburgh,
who said: "The significant warming being seen in many places across the planet makes
it unlikely that the recent warming reported in this paper is due just to local natural

In his Nature paper, Dr Mulvaney did not conclude that the recent changes observed
in the peninsula were down to human activity.

However, when asked about this, he said: "If I am pressed to say whether I think it's
human-induced, then I would say what we are seeing is human-induced."

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ABC News (Australia): Alpha coal mine nod 'devastating' for reef

23 August 2012

Environmentalists and farmers have criticised the Federal Government's approval of the
Alpha coal and rail project in central Queensland.

Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke has approved the multi-billion dollar project in
the Galilee Basin, after four years of negotiations.

The Federal Government took over the responsibility for approving the project in May,
saying the Queensland coordinator-general's conditions were inadequate.

The project has now been given the green light.

Peter Anderson from rural lobby group AgForce says landholders' concerns have been

"We were hoping that the Minister himself or his advisers making the decision would visit
landholders and hear their concerns and we're bitterly disappointed that hasn't
happened," he said.

"Landholders haven't been consulted and I have personally written to Minister Burke
and haven't received a response."

Greenpeace says the project could jeopardise the Great Barrier Reef.

Georgina Woods from Greenpeace says the Federal Government criticised the state's
handling of the project but the 19 environmental conditions placed on it still do not go
far enough.
"It was shambolic then and it's still shambolic now," she said.

"We don't think that either government has given due consideration to the devastating
environmental impacts this mine presents."

The North Queensland Conservation Council (NQCC) says approval of the coal
development and the rail link to Abbot Point is a sad outcome for the Great Barrier

NQCC spokeswoman Wendy Tubman says the caveats cannot guarantee the health
of the World Heritage area.

"What we see over and over again is a lovely environmental management plan
produced and it is worth, to be honest, diddly squat because it just sits on a shelf and
no-one takes any notice of it as far as we can see," she said.

Mr Burke says the reef will be protected and the assessment process was rigorous.

The conditions include developing a water quality management program to minimise
the effects of run-off and coal dust on the reef.

Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Jenny Whitney says she believes the local tourism
industry, which relies on the reef, will not be jeopardised by the mining project.

"I'm quite confident that the federal and state governments, who are the ones with the
authority to impose conditions, are looking at our interests and ensuring that we are
sustainable for tourism and industry and keeping that in balance," she said.

A western Queensland mayor says massive coal mines being planned in the Galilee
Basin may help improve social services in the central west.

Barcaldine Mayor Rob Chandler says Alpha is one of several proposed in the basin and
the development may help the community attract a permanent doctor and a

He says thousands of jobs will be created.

"They seem to think they'll get the workforce, predominantly from within Australia - I
haven't heard of about bringing in overseas workers for the construction phase but it is
a lot of bodies on the ground," he said.

"We've seen such a mess in the Bowen Basin in places like Blackwater and other places
- we've got a blank canvas, we've got a whole new ball game here."

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Montreal Gazette (Canada): Federal government cancels 3,000 environmental
reviews on pipelines, other projects

23 August 2012

The federal government’s budget legislation has forced the Canadian Environmental
Assessment Agency to cancel nearly 3,000 screenings into potential environmental
damage caused by proposed development projects across Canada, including
hundreds involving a pipeline or fossil fuel energy, according to published records.

Out of 2,970 project reviews that were stopped by the legislation that rewrote Canada’s
environmental laws and weakened federal oversight on industrial development, 678
involved fossil fuel energy and 248 involved a pipeline, including proposals from Alberta-
based energy companies, Enbridge and TransCanada.

The numbers were calculated using the agency’s new online database that is still
undergoing some revisions, additions and corrections.

“Federal environmental assessment is only one among many regulatory instruments
aimed at ensuring that projects do not cause significant adverse environmental effects,
and it is important to note that these smaller projects will still be subject to relevant
federal and provincial laws, regulations and standards,” said Isabelle Perrault, a
spokeswoman for the agency.

She explained that Environment Minister Peter Kent has decided to continue a
“screening-type assessment” for 18 projects that were already undergoing reviews before
Parliament adopted the budget bill, which also offered new tools for the government to
authorize water pollution, investigate environmental groups, weaken protection of
endangered species, and limit public participation in consultations and reviews of
proposed industrial projects.

Perrault was not immediately able to confirm whether all projects on the list would face a
mandatory environmental review from another regulatory body.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and members of his cabinet have said their reforms would
strengthen environmental protection while removing administrative delays that could
harm the economy.

But Gregory Jack, the director of a Natural Resources Canada task force on energy
security, said last February that industry stakeholders saw “an opportunity to use
(Enbridge’s proposed Northern) Gateway (pipeline) to push for (the) need for regulatory

Jack’s assessment was delivered in a presentation, released to Climate Action Network
Canada through access to information legislation, at a meeting discussing the
government’s efforts to deploy diplomats to defend oil and gas companies and fight
international efforts to slash the heat-trapping pollution that contributes to global

“Sadly in Canada right now when the oil industry says jump, the government asks how
high,” said Hannah McKinnon, campaigns director of the network, a coalition of
environmental, labour union and faith-based groups. “The government must be
beginning to regret this approach though, as public opinion rails against Northern
Gateway and the gutting of environmental regulations.”

Kent did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Megan Leslie, the NDP’s
deputy leader has asked the environment minister to consider public consultations on
drafting effective regulations for the new environmental laws.

Some of the cancelled reviews include coastal projects involving seismic testing,
considered to be harmful to marine species, as well as a controversial proposal to reverse
an Enbridge pipeline, and the construction of a new crude oil terminal and pipeline
infrastructure for TransCanada’s Keystone route.

Leslie said she understands the need to improve the evaluation process, but she doesn’t
believe such a large number of projects would no longer require a review overnight.

“It’s beyond comprehension,” said Leslie in an interview Thursday. “It makes this
assessment process look like a farce.”
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Times of India: Environment ministry writes to plan panel, asks it to rework climate
change chapter

24 August 2012

The environment ministry has asked the Planning Commission to revise the 12th five-year
plan climate change chapter and realign it with government's existing domestic and
international climate policy. The ministry shot off a letter to the plan panel miffed with the
draft that had suggested new goals for India's climate policy in breach of existing

In its letter to the Planning Commission, the environment ministry said the chapter was
drafted ignoring the report of the inter-ministerial steering group set up specifically for the
purpose and its contents "amount to prejudging India's negotiating position on climate
change in international fora and her political responsibility at the global level".

TOI had reported on the Planning Commission's chapter on climate change stepping
beyond the agency's mandate and trying to rewrite the obligations India has taken
voluntarily and in the international domain on reducing climate change while
underselling its claim to funds from developed countries to adapt to climate change and
reduce emissions.

The environment ministry, which spearheads the climate change policy in the
government, opposed the draft vehemently, noting that it attempts to alter the existing
framework of national missions on climate change as mandated by the PM's council on
climate change by pushing for new thrust areas. "These proposals are yet to be discussed
by the PM's council on climate change. The restructuring or reorganization of missions
should take place through a systematic procedure under the guidance of the PM's
council," the ministry said.

It pointed out that the plan panel had ignored the recommendations of the steering
group, which included representatives of all ministries concerned, and instead used
another interim report of experts headed by Kirit Parikh, which has not been accepted by
the government.

The plan panel chapter almost entirely focused on reducing emissions and sidelined what
has been the primary focus of India's climate change policy - adapting to inevitable
climate change. The ministry said, "The draft focuses primarily on a mitigation strategy for
addressing climate change in India. The document must equally outline a
comprehensive strategy for adaptation. The draft treats these issues nominally and
instead, gives disproportionate prominence to the measures needed to curb emissions
on the basis of report of the expert group on low carbon strategy."

The ministry also criticized the plan panel's version for diluting India's position on financing
climate change actions by pushing hard for private funds instead of international public
funding sources. The panel had suggested domestic taxes and carbon trade route to
garner funds as well as recommended emission reducing policies without assessing the
fiscal burden that would impose on the country.

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New York Times (US): Japanese Leader Meets With Antinuclear Protesters

22 August 2012

For the first time since antinuclear rallies began months ago outside Prime Minister
Yoshihiko Noda’s office, a dozen protesters were allowed inside on Wednesday for a half-
hour meeting that the fledgling movement hailed as a victory. The meeting comes at a
time of growing antinuclear sentiment in Japan, and with elections expected this year.

Mr. Noda, who angered demonstrators by dismissing their weekly rallies as “loud noise,”
had been under public pressure to meet with them face to face.

The demonstrators are calling for a shutdown of the reactors at the Oi nuclear power
plant in western Japan — the first reactors to be restarted since the nuclear accident at
Fukushima in March 2011 — and for Japan to decommission its 54 other reactors. They
say the reactors are not safe to restart, given the country’s frequent earthquakes and the
government’s failure to prevent the Fukushima disaster.

The rallies outside Mr. Noda’s office in the heart of Tokyo have grown from crowds of
several hundred to tens of thousands since the prime minister gave the go-ahead for
restarting the Oi reactor in July. “Saikado hantai!” — “Oppose the restarts!” — is now the
rallying cry at the protests, which the police say have swelled to include almost 100,000
people, although organizers say the turnout is almost twice that.

The meeting on Wednesday was broadcast on a live video link from the prime minister’s

“We wish we could have brought more of the people who gather outside your office
every week,” the leader of the movement, an illustrator who goes by the name Misao
Redwolf, told Mr. Noda, who sat stern-faced across from the group of protesters.

“Anger is erupting against your administration for failing to heed the lessons of the
Fukushima disaster and pushing ahead with the restarts,” she said. “This is not a loud
noise. This is the voice of the people.”

Mr. Noda said the government would take a wide variety of opinions into account
before drafting the country’s future energy policy. A committee of experts is debating
various scenarios through the year 2030, from phasing out nuclear power entirely to
keeping enough reactors running to provide 20 to 25 percent of Japan’s power needs.
Before Fukushima, nuclear energy supplied about 30 percent of Japan’s electricity.

On Tuesday, Motohisa Furukawa, the state minister for national strategy, told reporters
that he hoped to push for the phasing-out option. But the nuclear disaster minister, Goshi
Hosono, quickly countered that phasing out nuclear power should not be debated so

Mr. Noda defended his decision to allow the Oi restarts, but said Japan intended to
downsize its civilian nuclear program. There was no bow and no smile, protesters noted

“We will make diligent efforts to ensure safety,” Mr. Noda said.

Last month, a candidate backing an antinuclear agenda made a strong showing in a
governor’s race in a western prefecture that was considered a conservative stronghold,
surprising the political elite. With nationwide elections expected this year, some politicians
— including heavyweights like former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama — have made
appearances at the rallies, though they have been accused of opportunism. Moreover,
with Mr. Noda’s party likely to fall from power, any strategy his government settles on
before a vote is more an election platform plank than a long-term national plan.

The protesters, meanwhile, have taken pains to present their rallies as orderly, peaceful
and attended by a diverse group of Japanese. They are eager to distance themselves
from the last wave of protests etched in the public memory, in the 1960s and 1970s, which
were led by sometimes-violent radicals who opposed a security treaty with the United

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Independent online (South Africa): Race against time to save rhino

24 August 2012

Rhinos could be extinct within the next 25 years if they are not protected, an
environmental affairs rhino issue manager said on Thursday.

“At the rate at which these animals are being slaughtered, over the past 20 years or so - if
that continued there would be no rhino to talk about in another 25 years or so,” Mavuso
Msimang told reporters in Johannesburg.

“The rate at which they are born currently is higher than the rate at which they are taken
out, for now. They are not about to be extinct, not next year or shortly... But how do we
contain this to have natural growth rates?”

Msimang was addressing reporters at the Johannesburg Country Club on the
consultative dialogues the department of environmental affairs has had with various
parties in the rhino industry.

He said the purpose of the dialogue would be to report back to government and make
various recommendations in order to save the rhino.

South Africa had a responsibility to conserve and protect rhino because it had the
biggest rhino population in the world. The rhino was also one of the “big five”.

Msimang said there had been serious consultations which he hoped, at the end of all the
discussions, would influence policy.

“Government is serious in seeking solutions,” he said.

The issuing of permits, legalising trade, technology, intelligence and safety and security
were among topics discussed.

“Security has to be priority number one... Security must be beefed up and it must be
treated in a very sophisticated manner,” he said.

“You require a combination of activities to save rhino... that includes good conservation
Msimang said the arguments for and against trade also raised important issues including
the estimation of the demand for rhino horn.

“If it could be established that trading is going to increase security for the rhino, it is going
to encourage propagation of the rhino species - if it could - I would find it difficult to
recommend against it.”

Msimang said the trade and ownership of rhino horns was a fad internationally.

“The use of a horn is a symbol of wealth.

“As long as you have people who have money to dispose of and as long as South Africa
produces rhino and is unable to protect them - the threat to the population will
continue,” he said.

Msimang said the consultations continued and would formally end in September.

This year 339 rhino had been killed in South Africa, the department said on Wednesday.

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Eco-seed (US): Genetically modified algae should be studied for possible
negative effects on environment

23 August 2012

Genetically engineered algae might be a boon for the biofuel industry, but they could
be a bane to the natural ecosystem if they find their way out of their man-made habitats.

Scientists from Ohio State University caution that the environmental risks of genetically
engineered algae must also be considered before widespread cultivation.

According to Allison Snow, a professor of evolution, ecology and organismal biology, the
ability of an genetically engineered algae to survive in the wild should be studied.

“We need to know if they can survive and whether they can hybridize or evolve to
become more prolific when they get out of a controlled environment,” said Ms. Snow.

As algae are small and easily dispersed by rough weather or wildlife activity, modified
algae should be studied to determine if they would affect the natural ecosystem in
anyway. They should be tested to ensure that they would not produce toxins or harmful
algal blooms. It must also be determined if any of the genes they contain could be
transferred to other algal species.

Genetic modification could also be key to assuaging fears of “mutant” algae strains
developing in the wild. Aside from modifying algae to be bigger and better for the
biofuel industries, they can also be equipped with “suicide genes” that would make it
impossible to survive in the wild.

According to Ms. Snow, there are a lot of unknowns involved in the development of
microalgae as algae doesn’t have the breeding history of established crop plants such
as corn and soybeans. But with the proper precautions and assessments, algae can be
modified to be a good biofuel source without posing harm to the environment.

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Herald (Zimbabwe): Govt Appears Divided Over Conservancy Leases

23 August 2012

Government appears divided over the issuance of leases to indigenous operators in the
Save Valley Conservancy. Environment and Natural Resources Management Minister
Francis Nhema yesterday said issuing leases was part of the wildlife-based land reform
programme. But his Tourism and Hospitality Industry counterpart Walter Mzembi differs. He
said the move threatened Zimbabwe's chances of successfully hosting next year's United
Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly.

The new operators received the leases in 2007 and started issuing hunting permits to
interested hunters recently.

Minister Nhema said a meeting chaired by Vice-President John Nkomo (then Special
Affairs Minister in the President's Office responsible for Land, Land Reforms and
Resettlement) resolved that indigenous people partner the white operators.

"This was done since the days of the then governors Josiah Hungwe, Willard Chiwewe
and subsequently the current Governor and Resident Minister Titus Maluleke," he said.

"Several meetings were held between the governors and conservancy members who
agreed on the criteria for partnerships."

Minister Nhema said the new partners have been frustrated by efforts made to deny
them access to the conservancy.

"Conservancy members are offering 30 percent shares to their partners and have
continued with hunting activities after they asked for continued discussions which we
agreed to," he said.

"Government is issuing new partners with leases although conservancy members retain
the right to choose their partners."

Minister Nhema said problems in the conservancy had no effect or bearing on the
UNWTO General Assembly.
But Minister Mzembi said the take-over of the farms would be detrimental to tourism
growth in Zimbabwe.

He urged the Presidency and Cabinet to urgently deal with the matter.

"It is a unilateral action from the line ministry concerned and it's implementing agency,
National Parks," said Minister Mzembi.

"To the best of my knowledge, in the life of the current Government, no such policy as
Wildlife-Based Land Reform and Empowerment has been tabled in Cabinet." He said the
policy was still in "draft" form.

"If what is happening in the conservancies is the outcome of the policy as conceived by
the Environment Ministry, then it is obviously a very regressive instrument," said Minister

"It promotes greed and alienation of our masses who are the legitimate broad-based
empowerment partners in community share ownership and empowerment trusts as
currently being applied in the mining sector. This business of empowering people who are
already empowered severally in other sectors, such as farming, ranching, sugar cane
farming, mining, etc, will not pass the moral test nor will it endear us to the people except
to ourselves."

Minister Mzembi said the imposition of partners on the conservancy was against
Zimbabwe's laws.

"It is wrong to have minority ownership of conservancies, but it is even more
unpardonable to replace that minority white with a minority black, in the face of a crisis
of expectations and thirst for empowerment from our black majority," said Minister

"Environment (ministry) are the custodians, and our mandate is to market, and we can
only market value not a threat. Wildlife management and conservation are also
investment and philanthropic areas, in some instances protected by BIPAS, which are a
sincerity test of trade goodwill between nation states."

Members of the Save Valley Conservancy said in a statement that they had long held
the view that indigenisation should take the form of community involvement and benefit.

"To this end (we) formed and finalised the Save Valley Conservancy Community Trust,
incorporating five neighbouring rural district councils," they said. They blamed lack of
progress on the Government and the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife
Management "to bring in specific and long-term designated individuals".

The Save Valley Conservancy was formed in 1991 with the approval of the Government
through the national parks with the assistance of WWF and Beit Trust.
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Daily News (Sri-lanka): Efforts to control oil spill from Cyprus vessel

24 August 2012

The Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) is working in close coordination with
the Navy and the Disaster Management Centre (DMC) to control the possible
environmental damage caused by the sinking Cyprus ship in the seas off Panadura.

MEPA General Manager Rear Admiral (Retd) S R Samaratunga told the Daily News
yesterday the front part of the ship has already sunk and most probably the ship would
entirely sink within the next 24 hours. He said a part of the furnace oil stock in the ship has
been removed adding that a stock of about 70 to 80 tons of oil which turned solid still
remain in the ship. He said the Authority is preparing to control the spread of an oil spill
from the sinking ship. He said as measured there would be no large scale oil spill.

MEPA Chairman R S Ariyapperuma said the necessary equipment has been requested
from the harbour, adding that the assistance from Singapore would be sought
depending on the situation.

DMC Deputy Director of Media Sarath Lal Kumara said a plastic cover would be laid over
an area of one square kilometre of sea to collect and remove the oil leaking from the
ship. He said prompt attention has been given to minimize the environmental harm from
the oil spill.

This sinking merchant ship is 155metres in length and 127metres in width.This ship named
'Thermopylae Sierra' belonging to the Cyprus government was produced in 1985. It
remained anchored for the past three years off the coast of Panadura due a case that
has been filed in the Colombo Commercial High Court over a dispute between ship
owners and workers.

The MEPA has been continuously warning over a possible oil spill from the ship since last
year. It educated the court and the minister of the danger it poses to marine
environment. However, due to the order of the Appeal Court, the authorities have been
unable to remove it.

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Bellona (Russia): Dismal spill findings on Russian state oil giant should give
Norwegian partner Statoil pause

23 August 2012
The Russian Federal Service for the Supervision of Natural Resources Usage
(Rosprirodnadzor) has reported that state oil giant Rosneft is by far the worst polluter in
terms of oil spills in the most important land-based field it operates in northern central
Russia, according to documents obtained by Vedomosti newspaper. Charles Digges,

The report, released last week, singled out state-owned Rosneft’s operations in Western
Siberia’s Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Region at the mouth of the Ob River, as being
responsible for the 2,727 – or 75 percent – of the oil spills in the region in 2011.

The region is Russia’s biggest oil producer, supplying 51 percent of the country’s

Rosneft has shared a close relationship with Norway’s Statoil and since May, when the
two state-owned oil giants inked a deal to explore oil fields over hundreds of thousands of
square kilometers in the Barents Sea region in the presence of then President-elect
Vladimir Putin.

The deal begs the question as to how the Norwegian pubic might react to Statoil’s
participation in future projects with a company that has such an abysmal environmental
record stretching well beyond the confines of Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Region (or
KhMAO as it is known in its Russian acronym).

Rosneft’s activities in the Far-East Sakhalin Islands have since the early 2000s caused such
severe ongoing environmental devastation that Russian environmental groups have
petitioned the Russian government to block Rosneft from being a sponsor of the 2014
Olympic Games in Sochi.
Statoil still mulling Shtokman

Statoil as part of a management reshuffle earlier this month gave back to Russian gas
giant Gazprom its 24 percent share in the notorious Shtokman gas condensate field in the
Barents Sea – a move that was greeted warmly by the Norwegian public, and gained
Statoil shares two points on the Norwegian stock exchange.

While Statoil spokesman Bård Pedersen told Bellona that “we are still negotiating with
Gazprom to find a way forward to profitably develop the Shtokman phase 1 project,” it
was clear from Norwegian press reports that the country was glad Statoil had for the time
being divested from the environmentally dicey venture.

The foreign parters in the Shtokman project are expected to be finalized at Shtokman
Development AG's board meeting on August 30, Russian news reports have indicated.
Gazprom is said to be heavily favoring the inclusion of Shell in the project, offering Statoil,
which has the new May deal to fall back on, a clean exit from the Shtokman project,
Russian media have speculated.

Pedersen referred comment on Rosneft’s environmental work to Rosneft itself – which has
failed to respond to respond to numerous comment requests from Bellona.
“Rosneft’s dismal environmental record – as evidenced in this new report – has been
public record for a decade, and they clearly have no regard for the Russian
environment,” said Bellona President Frederic Hauge.

“Statoil’s planned cooperation with Rosneft amounts to a Norwegian endorsement of
Russia’s appalling and neglectful environmental policies,” he said, adding, “Statoil’s
management knows full well what kind of oil recovery agenda Rosneft represents, and it
is not one that is based on environmental or ethical grounds – but rather drill baby drill,
the consequences be damned.”
Statoil satisfied that Rosneft cooperation to be to environmental spec

Pedersen nonetheless stressed that Statoil’s “joint exploration work will be conducted in
compliance with relevant safety regulations and Statoil requirements.”

The May exploration deal, said Pedersen, is the only cooperative activity in which Statoil is
participating with Rosneft.
Rosneft’s most recent environmental crisis - ‘Ground flooded with oil’

The newspaper Vedomosti last week published the Rosprirodnadzor’s findings after the
paper obtained the report from a source within the agency. The agency is currently
leading a campaign to vet what information about the environment it makes public.

A description of the KhMAO offered by Yuri Trutnyev, former head of Rosprirodnadzor,
who visited the area in April was dramatic.

“The ground is practically flooded with oil. We didn’t have to search for contaminated
places, we had to search for territory that was not affected by pollution,” Trutnyev told
Vedomosti. “Everywhere there were oil rivers, lakes puddles, carelessly abandoned
remains of accidents.”

One of the principle dangers of such prolific oil spills – aside from the swathes of land they
have left destroyed – is that oil slicks will leak from land into the Ob River and into the
fragile ecosystems of the Barents and Kara Seas.

The report notes that the total number of oil spills in the KhMAO caused by the four
companies that work it has fallen from 4797 in 2009 to 3624 in 2011, a decrease of nearly
a quarter.

According to the report, Lukoil has fared the best in combating spill over the three years
studies, slashing its accident statistics by 2.5 times – from117 in 2009 to 46 in 2011. Rosneft,
however, has dropped its accident rate by only 20 percent.

Rosneft’s 2727 spills 2011 are far and away the most caused by any companies working
the KhMAO. The Rosprirodnadzor report established the state company as being
responsible for 75 percent of all spills in the territory – 160 times greater than those posted
by Surgutneftegaz, which in 2011 posted only 17 accidents.
The three-year study showed that there was a small decrease of 8.5 percent in the
volume of oil spilled in KhMAO, from 5,781 tonnes in 2009 to 5289 tonnes in 2011.
Rosprirodnadzor however did not provide a breakdown of which companies were spilling
less volume, Vedomosti said.

Rosneft, however, did independently open its books on this figure for 2010, showing that it
spilled 3737 tonnes – or 0.03 tonnes for every thousand tonnes recovered. TNK-BP also
provided its own volume loss figures for 2010, showing a spill rate of 0.014 tonnes per
thousand, or two times less than Rosneft. This is the only year for which such figures are

Lukoil and Surgutneftegaz have not published figures on lost tonnage.

Rosneft’s abysmal spill record can be attributed in large part to the amount of money the
state own company spends on environmental countermeasures. In 2011, said the
Rosprirodnadzor report, Rosneft spent 17.5 billion roubles ($551.7 million) on environmental
improvements to TNK-BP’s 26.1 billion roubles ($897 million).

Environmental improvements would include repairing leaking oil pipelines and updating
outmoded Soviet infrastructure.
Rosneft’s woes in Sakhalin

According to a wide-ranging group of environmental organizations including the World
Wildlife Fund and Greenpace, Rosneft’s activities in the Far East Sakhalin Islands have left
behind environmental ruin.

Oil and other petroleum products are seeping in enormous quantities into salmon
spawning rivers, gulfs and collecting along the shoreline of the Sea of Okhotsk, reports
ecologysite.ru (in Russian).

TheTom River, for instance, has experienced such an inundation of petroleum products
that it has pumped pollutants into the Gulf of Nyinsk north of Japan.

The contamination is impacting the livelihood of local fishermen and indigenous peoples.

Oil projects there – which have been a bone of environmental contention since the early
2000s – are also threatening the rare grey whale population of the region, the site reports.
Rosneft – despite appeals to the government by environmental groups – have
conducted seismic testing during the height of gray whale mating season, driving the
species from its spawning grounds.

The groups have pointed out that the seismic testing has violated not only Russian
environmental law, but Rosneft’s own stated policies of causing the least possible
environmental damage during development of its projects.

The environmental groups have petitioned the government to exclude Rosneft as a
partner in the 2014 Sochi Olympics. The company’s partnership status puts an extra
environmental onus on the company, which environmentalists say it is fallen well short of,
reported the site.

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Jamaican observer (Jamaica): J'cans win regional energy contest

24 August 2012

Three Jamaican companies were part of a team of eight winners of the Caribbean-wide
2012 IDEAS Energy Innovation contest.

They are Echos Consulting, which presented a proposal called Caribshare Biogas; The
Family Garden, which proposed a project on community hydroponics farming with solar
energy; and Caribbean ESCO Ltd, which proposed creating an energy-efficient hybrid
solar agro-products dryer, utilising alternative renewable energy and liquid desiccant

The winners, which were announced at a meeting at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston,
Tuesday, were each awarded grants of up to US$200,000 to develop their proposed
projects. This comes to a total of approximately US$1.5 million.

In addition to grant funding, the winners -- which included a Belizean national, two
Surinamese and two Haitians -- will receive technical and business development support
to implement or scale up their ideas, as well as access to other experts, policymakers,
institutions and potential financial partners.

IDEAS is a competition designed to identify and develop innovative, renewable energy
solutions that have local or regional benefits, such as job creation and a reduction in
greenhouse gas emissions. It is supported financially by UKAid, UK-based non-profit
organisation Global Village Energy Partnership International, the International
Development Bank and the Government of South Korea.

Minister of Science, Technology, Energy, and Mining Phillip Paulwell has congratulated
the winners and has praised the sponsors for having recognised that what is preventing
more innovation is a lack of resources and capital.

"Not every one of these [projects] will become a multimillion-dollar project, but trust me,
we will get one or two out of them, and certainly it will provide for our people
demonstrations," he said.

He said 90 per cent of Jamaica's exports are still raw material-based and only six per cent
"high-tech". He said this could be due to an inadequate policy guiding science,
technology and innovation in the island, a lack of effective national innovation systems,
a weak innovation culture, and comparatively less science, technology and innovation
in the island.
Paulwell said the process to develop Jamaica's strategic Science, Technology and
Innovation Programme has formally started and is going apace. The programme,
supported by the International Development Bank, has a list of criteria including adding
value to goods and services, improving efficiency of commodities, such as fuel and food,
enhancing health and wellness and providing small and micro-enterprises with a
competitive edge.

The minister said the programme will also provide the creation of three centres of
excellence in Jamaica. One will specialise in science and technology education at local
tertiary institutions. There will also be an applied science and industrial value-added
centre of excellence based at the Scientific Research Council, as well as one focused on
applied environmental science.

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Global Times (China): Voices on fairness and transparency in environment

24 August 2012

"Only when the public takes part in the environment evaluation process can the staff
involved be prevented from giving in to interest groups and instead make objective

Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, an environmental
protection NGO, on fairness and transparency in environment evaluation, posted on his
Sina Weibo Thursday.

"The misunderstanding that banquets equal corruption should go. We should publish and
properly supervise official spending."

Hu Guangwei, a researcher at the Sichuan Academy of Social Sciences, on public anger
at extravagant official feasts, quoted by xinhuanet.com Thursday.

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                                 Selected Blog Posts

Guardian (UK): Would anyone buy ivory if they had witnessed this cruel

23 August 2012
An ivory carving is far removed from the sad carcass of a poached elephant, but China
must make this connection.

I've had so many wonderful days in Africa, there was bound to be tough one.

Earlier this week, I witnessed how illegal ivory was obtained, along with Peter Knights,
executive director of WildAid, with whom I've worked for several years now. With the
help of Kenya Wildlife Service, we travelled via helicopter to access the carcasses. Iain
Douglas-Hamilton of Save the Elephants had spotted the bodies from the air in his small
plane, and marked the spot for our pilot to bring down the chopper in a dry riverbed. It
was so tight we did a little hedge trimming on the way down.

Not 20 yards away, I saw the body of an elephant poached for its ivory three weeks
ago. Its face had been cut off by poachers and its body scavenged by hyenas,
scattering bones around the area. A sad mass of skin and bone. The smell was
overwhelming and seemed to cling to us, even after we left.

I really was speechless. After seeing these animals up close and watching them interact
in loving and protective family groups, it was heart wrenching and deeply depressing to
see this one cruelly taken before its time.

People, like Iain, have spent their lives studying and living intimately with these animals
and now, just like in 1989 before the international ivory trade was banned, they must
spend their lives looking for bodies, using metal detectors to find bullets and conducting

Unfortunately, I saw four more bodies in close proximity that day. One that poachers
had attempted to hide with bushes; another that had been found dead from his
wounds within shouting distance of a lodge with its ivory still intact, having evaded the
poachers while wounded; and later, two fresher carcasses of much smaller elephants
that had been sprayed with bullets. Their tusks would have been small, but that did not
protect them. Poachers often only wound elephants and they may fall well away from
where they were originally shot. I could imagine the clamour in the herd as the
elephants fled in terror.

The fact that we were able to see five bodies in one area in the brief time I was here is
an indication of the seriousness of the poaching crisis.

Before the international ivory trade ban, in addition to legal ivory from natural deaths,
huge amounts of illegal ivory were laundered into the trade despite years of attempted
regulation. This "regulated" trade led to the halving of elephant numbers from 1.2 million
to around 600,000 in two decades. West, central and east Africa were hardest hit, while
southern African populations remained stable and even increased.

Post-ban, the price of ivory fell to a quarter of its previous levels as markets in the US,
Europe and much of the world, collapsed. For a number of years, elephant numbers
stabilised and poaching declined. Some South African countries pushed for re-opening
ivory trade for their stockpiles, but each time this was done, poaching increased again
on speculation of a renewed market.

Theoretically, I'm told we could have a market in ivory supplied from elephants that die
naturally. But unfortunately, with the high amount of money at stake, few will wait for
the elephant to die to make a profit. There are too many people with access to
weapons to do the killing here and too many people ready to buy the ivory without
questioning how it was obtained.

I also learned that at one point in history, the United States was the largest consumer of
ivory. As of 1989, Japan and Hong Kong were the largest importers of ivory, with Hong
Kong holding 127 tonnes in its stockpile.

But China's economic boom has lead to greater buying power with few potential
consumers exposed to the publicity surrounding the 1989 ban. This is why we really need
to document what's happening here in Africa, on the ground. I firmly believe that
Chinese consumers will have a change of heart once we understand the
consequences, but it hasn't been covered widely enough in the media.

Unlike rhino horn (which was banned in 1993 in China), ivory is still legally available and
side-by-side with illegal ivory from poached elephants, which I think is very confusing for
people. If you see something openly on sale, you assume it is legal. An ivory carving is
thousands of miles removed from the sad carcass of a poached elephant, but we
need to make that connection.

It was a harrowing experience I never want to repeat, but something that everyone
thinking of buying ivory should see. The wastefulness of this animal cruelly slaughtered
just so a small part of it can be used. Would anyone buy ivory if they had witnessed this?

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                     Environmental News from the UNEP Regions

                                 ROAP MEDIA UPDATE
                            THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS
                                Friday, August 24, 2012

UN News Centre: United Nations climate fund inaugurates first meeting

23 August 2012

A United Nations fund aimed at mobilizing resources to help developing countries
mitigate the impact of global warming has kicked-off its first official meeting, it was
announced today.
Established by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) during the
2011 UN Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, the Green Climate Fund
(GCF) was created to help developing nations protect themselves from climate
impacts and build their own sustainable futures.

However, the GCF could not meet officially until it had filled all 24 seats on its Board,
which effectively governs and supervises all aspects of the Fund.

According to a press release confirming the inaugural session, the GCF will now set
about satisfying its mandate, which includes providing developing countries with
simplified and improved access to climate change funding, as well as providing them
support to limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of
climate change.

The Board inaugurated its first gathering by electing Mr. Zaheer Fakir of South Africa and
Mr. Ewen McDonald of Australia as its Co-Chairs for a one-year term. Mr. Fakir is the
Head of International Relations and Governance of the Department of Environmental
Affairs of South Africa, while Mr. McDonald is the Deputy Director General of the
Australian Agency for International Development, and both boast numerous years of
experience in development and climate change-related issues.

Meanwhile, six countries – Germany, Mexico, Namibia, Poland, Republic of Korea, and
Switzerland – are vying to host the Fund.

The GCF’s meeting will conclude on Saturday, 25 August.

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Inquirer: Cayetano: UN report acknowledged as source in speech on

MANILA, Philippines—Repeatedly quoting a United Nations report throughout an entire
speech would be tedious. Would not an acknowledgment of the source in the first part
of the speech suffice?

Senator Pia Cayetano said a speech she gave on World Environment Day
acknowledged the UN Environment Program (UNEP) as her source of information.

“If you will read it, from the very first paragraph, I acknowledged UNEP and from there, I
defined (its) programs. (My critics) are saying I should acknowledge (UNEP) in every
sentence during the speech. That would be difficult (“mahirap naman ‘yun”),” the
senator said in an ambush interview on Thursday.
Cayetano admitted that when the speech was uploaded, her staff used an “old”
WordPress program that apparently failed to accommodate footnotes that would
have acknowledged UNEP as her source.

The senator said her staff already made the “appropriate corrections” although she
added that the UN has always encouraged the “free use of its material.”

A group of local bloggers called Pinoy Templars took Cayetano to task earlier this week
for allegedly taking quotes used in her speech on the environment quoting UNEP and
another on maternal health from “at least two” sources with “nary an attribution.”

The bloggers said Cayetano also did not recognize Health Undersecretary Mario
Villaverde when she used information from his presentation on maternal health

The senator however, said the second speech dated February 2011 was not delivered
at all.

“I wish the one who blogged made a little effort to check this out. You see, the speech
was never delivered on the floor,” Cayetano said in Filipino.

The senator recalled a request made in relation to International Women’s Day.

Cayetano never read the speech on the floor but merely “ad libbed” some lines “on
the rights of mothers” when the Senate observed the occasion.

“And then I showed a video clip,” she said.

The senator added that the speech was still uploaded by a media officer despite this.

That the employee failed to put in footnotes was a simple “technical glitch…but I have
always acknowledged that proper footnoting should be there,” she added.

“This is such a simple issue. I find it quite malicious that (the bloggers) would try to
impute malice in this. But rest assured to all writers and bloggers that your literary work
should always be accredited and acknowledged,” Cayetano told reporters.

Apart from Cayetano, Senate majority leader Tito Sotto was also accused of delivering
a speech last week where lines from a US blogger’s post on the dangers of
contraceptives were lifted without acknowledging the one who wrote it.

His chief of staff admitted the wrongdoing, but quickly said Sotto could not be held
accountable since it was their researchers who failed to acknowledge the blogger.

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UN News centre: UN honours literacy programmes in Bhutan, Colombia,
Indonesia and Rwanda

22 August 2012

Literacy programmes in Bhutan, Colombia, Indonesia and Rwanda won the 2012
International Literacy Prizes of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization (UNESCO).

The awards, worth $20,000 each, will be distributed on 6 September in a ceremony at
UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France, as part of the celebrations for International
Literacy Day, observed annually on 8 September, the agency announced in a news
release on Tuesday.

Two programmes were awarded the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize, which was
created in 1989 by the Republic of Korea, and two received the UNESCO Confucius
Prize for Literacy, created in 2005 by the Chinese Government.

The Directorate of Community Education Development in Indonesia received one of
the two UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prizes for its work to improve the “quality of
literacy education through entrepreneurship literacy, reading culture and tutor
training.” The programme, a Government initiative, involves almost three million people
and puts special emphasis on women so they can receive basic literacy training.

The second UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize was won by the National Adult Literacy
Programme of the Pentecostal Church in Rwanda. The agency said that the
programme was selected for its focus on women and out-of-school youth. The
programme, which has reached over 100,000 people, also aims to ensure that
individuals learn about human rights, reconciliation and peacebuilding through literacy.

The Non-formal and Continuing Education programme from Bhutan will receive one of
the UNESCO Confucius Prizes for Literacy for its work teaching basic literacy skills through
its 950 centres in rural communities.

The Interactive System Programme, operated by the Fundación Transformemos in
Colombia, will receive the second UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy for its
peacebuilding and income-generating activities in areas affected by conflict and
violence. The programme seeks to improve literacy through an intercultural approach
and has reached some 300,000 persons since it began in 2006.

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4 Traders.com: Rebalancing Growth in Asia & the Pacific: The Post Rio+20
Development Agenda
23 August 2012

Phnom Penh (UN ESCAP Strategic Communications and Advocacy Section) -
"Cambodia provides a good example of the innovation and leadership that will be
required by Asia-Pacific countries in the next phase of rebalancing growth and
economic development," said Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, United Nations Under-Secretary-
General and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and
the Pacific (ESCAP), meeting today with the Ministry for Environment of Cambodia.

"The Royal Cambodian Government has tried very hard, for almost a decade, to forge
a more inclusive development path by generating jobs that set and meet high labour
standards, and at the same time create market access for their manufactured goods,"
said Dr. Heyzer. "It has weathered the economic crisis - sustaining impressive growth
even amidst the 'new normal' of volatility, uncertain demand and increasing
commodity prices."

Describing this as having been a first phase of economic development - focused on
jobs and growth, the Under-Secretary-General observed that: "Cambodia is on track to
achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving extreme poverty by 2015.
In the process they have also made great progress in, for instance, halving infant
mortality rates between 2000 and 2010. Unfortunately though, inequalities have
continued to rise, especially between those Cambodians living in urban areas and the
more than 80% of to population living in rural areas."

"I have just returned from the Rio+20 conference where it became clear that the next
phase and also the post-2015 agenda, will be about rebalancing growth to take into
account the need for inclusivity and sustainable development," said Dr. Heyzer.
"Cambodia still has some ways to go to meet MDG 7 on ensuring environmental
sustainability, but it is the first of our Asia-Pacific countries in the category of Least
Developed Country (LDC) to have led by adopting a National Green Growth
Roadmap, also establishing a National Green Growth Secretariat - offering a real
chance to leapfrog into a more sustainable future."

Cambodia's approach to green growth focuses on addressing seven key aspects of
access: to clean water and sanitation; to renewable energy; to information and
knowledge; to means for better mobility; to finance and investments; to food security;
and to sustainable land use. Amongst the most successful of its projects has been a
green pilot project providing solar charging lanterns for low-cost, environmentally-
friendly lighting in poor rural communities such as Kompong Prohot and Anlong Ta Ur in
the Thonle Sap lake area.

"The challenge now is for Cambodia to ensure that these plans are well-financed, that
the pilot projects can be up-scaled, and the inclusive and sustainable development will
lead to shared prosperity," said Dr. Heyzer. "It is my hope that, with Cambodia holding
the Chair of ASEAN, many of these good practices will also be placed on the ASEAN
As part of her official visit to Cambodia, the Under-Secretary-General also held talks
with the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Ministers and a number of senior Cabinet Ministers
on issues ranging from regional economic integration, to energy security, women's
empowerment and improving regional trade links.

For further information, please contact:

Ms. Thawadi Pachariyangkun, Strategic Communications and Advocacy Section, M:
(66) 81-634-3876/ E: pachariyangkun.unescap@un.org

Phnom Penh:
Mr. Robert Spaull, External Relations Officer, M: +66 81 907 6392 / E: spaull@un.org

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Daily News (Pakistan): Series of facilities for urban settlers
The Urban Settlement Development Authority acting on the directions of Construction,
Engineering Services, Housing and Common Amenities Minister Wimal Weerawansa has
launched a programme to provide a series of facilities and dividends for residents in
urban settlements concurrent to the World Habitat Day which falls on October 1.

wIt includes the award of title deeds under the Jana Sarana project to 1000 flat
dwellers and low income group urban settlements programme of self employment
avenues to 500 urban youth, opening of 2000 childrens savings accounts by educating
community and childrens societies, organizing literary, drama and cultural contests
among schoolchildren and youth in urban areas in addition to sports events to develop
literary and sports skills among the younger generation said a press release issued by
the Construction, Engineering Services, Housing and Common Amenities Ministry.

Steps have been taken to educate the beneficiaries of this programme through a
house to house campaign. A house to house campaign was held in Nagaswatte in
Kirulapana, Halgahakumbura in Borella, Wadullawatta in Colombo Central and Sri
Wickramapura in Colombo North on August 18. A Habitat Week will also be held from
September 24 to 30.

Chairman Urban Settlement (Habitat) Development Authority Palitha Gamage and
other officers are conducting a house to house campaign to educate residents of
urban settlements on the World Habitat Day celebrations.

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                                  RONA MEDIA UPDATE
                             THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS
                                 Friday, August 24, 2012

Reuters: UN green climate fund, meant to aid poor, holds first talks

23 August 2012

Aug 23 (Reuters) - Leaders of a U.N. green fund meant to channel billions of dollars to
help developing economies cope with climate change met for the first time on
Thursday after months of delays.

The 24-strong board began 3-day talks in Geneva, trying to decide where the fund will
be based and other details, officials said. Ways to extract planned new aid from the
anaemic economies of rich countries will be left for later meetings.

Developed nations agreed in 2009 to raise climate aid, now about $10 billion a year, to
an annual $100 billion from 2020 to help developing countries curb greenhouse gas
emissions and cope with floods, droughts, heatwaves and rising sea levels.

Once up and running, the Green Climate Fund is meant to manage rising aid flows.
Candidates to host the fund's headquarters are Germany, Mexico, Namibia, Poland,
South Korea and Switzerland.

"The Green Climate Fund can be an important tool in the world's common work to
prevent climate change," Norwegian Deputy Finance Minister Kjetil Lund, a member of
the board, said in a statement on Thursday.

He said developing nations needed aid to spur greener growth that also enables them
to cut greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels. The fund is part of a
wider effort to work out a United Nations deal to combat climate change.

The board's first meeting was delayed by five months because Asian and Latin
American nations took longer than expected to agree on their board members.

"The most important thing is selecting the host country," Omar El-Arini, a member of the
board from Egypt, said of the Geneva talks. He said that the board was due to report
back on the sitting to a U.N. meeting in Doha in late November.

"I don't think there will be any serious discussion of the $100 billion," he added in a
phone briefing earlier this week.
Brandon Wu, of anti-poverty campaigners ActionAid USA, noted that U.S. farmers were
struggling with drought. But the effects of similar weather "are even more severe in
developing countries where there is no crop insurance, no safety nets," he said.

"People living in poverty will suffer most," he said.

The board started its work by electing two co-chairs, Zaheer Fakir of South Africa and
Ewen McDonald of Australia, the fund said in a statement.

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Huffington Post: Adrian Grenier, Peter Glatzer Talk SHFT On HuffPost Live (VIDEO)

22 August 2012

How do you make environmentalism "cool"? Support from the sexy star of HBO's
"Entourage" can't hurt.

Actor Adrian Grenier and producer Peter Glatzer joined host Ahmed Shihab-Eldin on
HuffPost Live this week to discuss green consumerism and how to make environmental
concerns appeal to a broad audience.

"We were sick and tired of the happy green talk or the doom and gloom out there. It
turned us off,” Grenier explained.

Co-founders of eco-minded SHFT.com, Grenier and Glatzer joined other guests to
discuss the need for a change in mentality and behavior around sustainable lifestyles.

As Grenier described, “We decided to appeal to a larger audience and embrace small
shifts, not only in people's consumer habits but also put a spotlight on businesses making
those changes, really applaud them, and most importantly seek out the new businesses
doing really cool things to help with the environment."

Through sustainable design and culture, the duo is promoting a change in attitude
toward eco-living, recently launching with Ford Motor Company The Big SHFT, a video
series highlighting environmentally-friendly businesses.

Some HuffPost Live guests expressed concerns over a limited audience for sustainable
products, but Glatzer argued that the goal is to become mainstream -- to do this, they
"eschew the idea of ‘eco’; you don't see the word ‘green’ on our site very often."

For Grenier, "it's not just about environmentalism, it's about this holistic approach to
living, which also includes profit."

While turning garbage into products can help clean the business landscape, some
critics of green consumerism argue that by labeling a product “green,” it’s letting
consumers off the hook: "It's guilt-free now -- buy, buy, buy!" as HowStuffWorks' Julia
Layton describes it.

In the reduce, reuse, recycle hierarchy, “reduce” is arguably the best way to help the
environment. But until reductions in waste are made and a broader shift from our
material-driven society occurs, green entrepreneurs turning trash into treasure may be
the best start.

Grenier advocated not just for supporting small businesses, but added, "We have to
really embrace and support bigger companies that do make an effort, because a lot
of times when these big companies make a small change, it's going to have a big
impact... We’re I guess optimists. If the alternative is, ‘we're all going to die,’ what kind
of a way to live is that?"

Glatzer acknowledged it’s not a rosy picture. “We need the public sector to come in
and help. It's going to take a combination of public and private… we need a
comprehensive energy bill, we need a lot more.” But for now, "every little shift in your
consciousness, your thinking, your consumer habits really does make a difference, and
businesses listen to their consumers' demands.”

This means folding environmentalism into all aspects of everyday life. Grenier described
dinner parties where they “essentially go off the grid” – no internet, boom box, lights --
"and suddenly you're in this sexy place where it's a little dark, you have to get a little
closer, more intimate." Small shifts even within personal social gatherings can be both
enjoyable and reduce carbon footprints.

Ultimately, for Grenier, the question comes down to: "Do you have faith in humanity or
not? I do. I think there's a lot of innovation, a lot of smart ideas coming out.”

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Washington Times: GOP platform opposes U.N. tax plans

Levies infringe on U.S. rights, supporters say

22 August 2012

TAMPA, Fla. — Republican platform writers put the party officially on record Wednesday
opposing attempts by the United Nations, some backed by Democrats in Congress, to
assess a special tax on all Americans and to give the money to Third World nations.

“The United Nations has proposed three global taxes and a global monetary
governance mechanism to raise $400 billion a year to aid developing countries,” the
Republican National Committee says in a resolution passed in the opening session of its
annual meeting preceding the party’s presidential nominating convention that begins
here Monday.
The resolution cites in particular reports that Ottmar Edenhofer, an official with the U.N.’s
major international panel dealing with climate-change issues, “claimed that climate-
change policy was a way to redistribute wealth globally.”

The move also could have the practical effect of complicating the ability of the U.S. to
participate in such international accords as the Law of the Sea Treaty, which the U.S.
Senate has never ratified, and successor agreements to the Kyoto global-warming

The RNC’s resolution, which puts the national GOP in the center of the global wealth-
distribution controversy for the first time, says the world body also has proposed a
carbon tax, a currency transaction tax and a billionaires’ tax, “as well as allocation of
the International Monetary Fund’s Special Drawing Rights,” which have been proposed
by some as a replacement for the U.S. dollar as the common currency all nations use
for international trade.

The Congressional Budget Office issued a report earlier this year asserting that the
financial transactions tax could kill jobs in the U.S. Such a move, financial experts say,
could also undermine the nation’s long-standing role as the dominant global financial

The transaction tax was sponsored by Rep. Peter A. DeFazio of Oregon and Sen. Tom
Harkin of Iowa, both liberal Democrats, late in 2011. Citing similar taxes imposed in
Europe, the two said the measure could raise revenue for the Treasury while
simultaneously curbing excessive financial market speculation.

“The first step on the long path to recovery happens when we rein in the excessive
speculative activity that has destabilized our financial system,” Mr. DeFazio said at the

Republicans here said the tax could cause American stock traders to move their
businesses offshore and create ways to avoid the tax.

Approved by the standing resolutions committee, the document will be presented to
the full 168-member RNC for approval Thursday.

“The United Nations has not evidenced its capability to properly handle foreign aid and
has in face been shown to be wasteful and scandal-ridden, ” the GOP resolution notes.

The resolution’s sponsor, Demetra DeMonte, an RNC member from Illinois and a
founding member of the RNC’s Conservative Caucus, said the U.N. appears bent on
encroaching on U.S. sovereignty.

Jeff Grossman, a delegate-at-large to the national convention, said he “wished the
resolution had gone further.”
“In truth, the U.N. has no authority to impose a tax on the citizens of the United States,”
said Mr. Grossman, who supported Mitt Romney in the Republican presidential

He argued that the GOP must take the stand it did Wednesday because “it would be a
violation of America’s sovereignty and of the Constitution to ratify such a tax.”

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Canada Free Press: The American Planning Association and Its “Faulty”

23 August 2012

With great fanfare, the American Planning Association (APA) reported results of a
recent survey the group conducted, (“Planning America: Perceptions and Priorities”)
showing that the anti- Agenda 21 “crowd is slim.” Said the report, only 6% of those
surveyed expressed opposition to Agenda 21, while 9% expressed support for Agenda
21 and 85%, “the vast majority of
respondents, don’t know about Agenda 21.”

Typically, APA is using the survey to formulate the image that opponents to Agenda 21/
Sustainable Development are just a lunatic fringe with no standing and of no
consequence in the “real” world. They continue to portray Agenda 21 as simply a 20
year old idea, and just a suggestion that planners and local governments might

However, a closer look at the full survey, plus some additional APA reports reveal some
interesting, and in some cases, astounding facts.

First the survey:

It was designed to show support for “Planning.” This has become an obsession with the
“planning community” because Agenda 21 and Sustainable Development have
become the center of protests by property owners and those who feel government has
grown too big and powerful. So the APA has launched a series of efforts to fight back.
These include conducting a “boot camp” to train their legions of planners across the
nation on how to deal with anti-Agenda 21 protestors.

                                            According to the APA, the findings of the
Survey reveal that: Only one-third believe their communities are doing enough to
address economic situations; Very few Americans believe that market forces alone (the
free market) improve the economy or encourage job growth; 84 % feel that their
community is getting worse or staying the same; Community planning is seen as
needed by a wide majority of all demographics; and of course, that 85% of Americans
just don’t know enough to hold an opinion about Agenda 21.
Those are pretty astounding findings. Looks like these “honest” planners have their
fingers on the pulse of the nation. And as the APA constantly reminds us in their
materials, “there is no hidden agenda,”(as in Agenda 21).

Astounding perhaps, until you look at the actual questions asked in the survey. For
example, Finding #4: Community planning is seen as needed by a wide majority of all
demographics (79% agree; 9% disagree; and 12% don’t know). Wow!

But here is the actual question that was asked: “Generally, do you agree or disagree
that your community could benefit from a community plan as defined above?” The
definition provided in order to answer the question was this: “Community planning is a
process that seeks to engage all members of a community to create more prosperous,
convenient, equitable, healthy and attractive places for present and future

Asking the question in that manner is akin to holding up a picture of Marilyn Monroe
along with one of Rosy O’Donnell and asking which one would they want to date. Give
me the pretty one please – says 79%. In fact, in some actual planning meetings they do
just that – hold up a picture of downtown depicting decaying, dreary buildings verses
one of a shining, beautiful utopia, and they literally say, “which one do you want?” If
the answer is (of course) the pretty one, then, YES, the community supports planning!
Talk about a “dumbed down” process.

Moreover, as the American Planning Association adamantly denies any connection to
the United Nations’ policy of Agenda 21 and its planning programs, how strange it is
then, that the APA definition of planning is almost identical to the definition used by the
UN to define Sustainable Development. Compare: “Development that meets the needs
of today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own
needs.” The UN further defines Agenda 21: “Effective execution of Agenda 21 will
require a profound reorientation of all human society, unlike anything the world has
ever experienced.” Such a forced policy would certainly “engage all members of a
community” whether they want to be or not. The UN calls it a “redeployment of human
resources.” Other than semantics, there is no difference in the APA’s and the UN’s
definitions of planning.” The planners’ definition uses an interesting term, “equitable.”
The UN also uses such a term in describing Agenda 21 – “Social Equity.” And that is
translated into another term: “Social Justice.” It means “redistribution of wealth.” Is that
what the “local” planners have in mind for their community development?

It’s obvious that the APA is playing word games with its surveys and definitions of
planning. No wonder such an overwhelming majority answer in the affirmative to such

And, yes, maybe a lot of Americans don’t know what Agenda 21 really is. However, if
the APA asked real questions that gave a solid clue as to the planning they actually
have in mind, I’m quite sure they would get a much different response – whether the
person answering had ever heard of Agenda 21 or not. For example, here are some
sample questions that could help the APA take the real pulse of the community – if they
wanted to be honest:

      How do the citizens feel about planning policy that dictates the size of their yard
       and forces high density developments where one practically sits on top of their
       neighbors? Do they still support such “Planning?”
      How do the citizens feel about planning that enforces the creation of public
       transportation with a limited number of riders – yet could cost taxpayers so much
       money that it would be literally cheaper to buy each potential rider a brand new
       Rolls Royce, even when the chauffeur is thrown in for good measure? Do they still
       support such “Planning?
      How do they feel about planning that enforces limits on energy use and forces
       up energy costs? What if that included forcing residents to replace their
       appliances with more energy efficient ones to meet “Planning Standards?” Do
       they still support such “Planning?”
      How do the citizens feel about Planning that forces cars to “share the road” with
       bicycles and foot traffic, even as Planners narrow the streets, deliberately
       making it harder to drive? Do they still support such “Planning?”
      How do the citizens feel about Planning that forces tax payers to pay for plug-in
       stations for electric cars that hardly anyone wants or uses, for the specific
       purpose of forcing people to buy them? Do they still support such “Planning?”
      How do the citizens feel about Planning that creates non-elected boards,
       councils and regional governments to enforce their policies, which actually
       diminish the power of the officials they elected, severely reducing citizen input
       into policy? Do they still support such “Planning?”

Ask the questions in this manner instead of trying to whitewash them into sounding like
innocent, non-intrusive local ideas for community development. Ask the questions so
that they reflect the consequences of the plans, and then see if the 85% now are so
eager to ignore the effects of Agenda 21.

The reality is that Americans across the nation are now openly protesting such policies
as they are being enforced in communities everywhere. They are directly tied to the
stated goals of Sustainable Development, the official policy of Agenda 21. And that is
why a twenty year old “suggestion” has become the focal point of attacks on “local”

Planners are shocked that people are opposed to such attacks on their private
property and their pocketbooks, and they are doing everything possible to label such
Americans as “fringe conspiracy theorists.” The survey is part of that effort.

In fact, the APA survey follows a barrage of news articles, obviously contrived by the
public relations firm hired by APA, to again, paint its image as just a group of honest
planners trying to do their jobs while being unjustly attacked by fringe radicals. Such
convenient reports have suddenly appeared on the front page of the New York Times,
Washington Post, Wisconsin Watch, Mother Jones and the Southern Poverty Law Center,
to name a few. It’s interesting to note that most of these stories name me as the

As mentioned, the APA has organized a boot camp to train their planners how to
combat us nasty protestors. Through its new training, the APA downplays revealing
details of the plan, instead, suggesting ways to make their presentations merely
“conversations with the community,” using empathy, and terms that are non-
technical.” Obviously APA believes the protestors are just simpleminded and unable to
see their wisdom. One shouldn’t be so upset over losing control of their property, their
business or their farm. There’s a higher good at stake here, after all.

And so, to accomplish that task of dumbed- down “planning,” (and in fact, hiding its
real purpose) the APA is going to great lengths to change the words. For example, the
APA has issued to its members a “Glossary for the Public” that suggests what words
should no longer be used in public meetings when discussing planning, because they
make the opposition see “red.” So the planners should not use words like collaboration
and consensus, or public visioning, or even “Smart Growth.”

The Glossary provides specific language and tactics to be used to defuse protests.
“Stay on message,” it says. “The following phrases may be useful to help you frame your
message in a way that is positive and inclusive, when transitioning to a local example,
or to stay on message during public meetings where critics may attempt to distract
from the agenda or topic at hand.” And here is the language they suggest: “Plans and
planning are time-tested ways for communities and neighborhoods to create more
options and choices for their residents…” In other words, we’ve always had planning, so
what’s the problem?”

Such “public” meetings that the APA is so worried about being disrupted are not public
at all. They are “consensus” meetings, run by professional facilitators, trained in
psychology to use stealth to direct the audience into a pre-determined direction for a
pre- determined outcome. Anyone asking questions outside the well-controlled box is
labeled a protestor. And we are protesting that! It is not how things are to be done in a
free society, especially when your own property is at stake.

Yes, there has been planning throughout the history of America. Many communities
have come up with efficient ways to deal with water use and waste disposal, and to
assure that factories weren’t built next door to private homes, and so forth. And no one
is protesting that!

Our fight is with “planning” that is specifically designed to curtail energy use, drive up
costs, control private property and development and building – literally dictating a
change in our lives and even changing the very structure of our system of government.

One of the tools the APA uses to enforce planning is through the International Code
Council (ICC), an international set of standards based on a one size fits all set of
regulations. The ICC also develops the International Energy Conservation Code, a
model for energy efficiency code. And it develops a standard for Accessible And
Usable Building Facilities. Each of these codes is aimed at cutting back energy use,
controlling private property use, and, in short, enforcing sustainable development.
Where was the concept of sustainable development first introduced and perfected as
an agenda for development? Oh yes, in Agenda 21. There is no room for discussion,
reason or consideration for exceptional local situations. The APA brings these codes
and others into the community planning as a pre- packaged deal inflicting the
community with (yes) foreign regulations. And yes, dedicated Americans protest that
this is not local government or planning, but the enforcement of an international (UN)

We further find similar pre-packaged regulations coming from federal agencies,
including the EPA (which openly admits that some of its grant programs are designed to
impose Agenda 21) the Forest Service (which admits that its policies on forest
conservation are coming from the UN’s Brundtland Commission on Global
Governance), as well as polices from the Department of Housing and Urban
Development (HUD), and the Department of Transportation, to name a few.

And so it goes. Government in the U.S., at all levels, is happily moving forward with such
plans, using the ground troops supplied by the American Planning Association in every
community. It’s happening fast, and is all-pervasive. And as people are being run over
by such plans, some are trying to slow down the runaway freight train by standing in the
tracks and yelling stop! They of course are the ones labeled as fringe nuts.

However, as the APA does everything it can to so label our movement, a shocking new
report provides new evidence that the sustainable polices advocated by APA in the
cities – the policy known as Smart Growth – is wrong headed and really pretty dumb.
And where does such a report appear? Here’s the real shocker. It was published in the
Journal of the American Planning Association in an article entitled “Does Urban Form
Really Matter.” It is an analysis of Smart Growth polices in the United Kingdom which
shows that the “compact city” controls don’t work.

Says the report, “The current planning policy strategies for land use and transportation
have virtually no impact on the major long-term increases in resource and energy
consumption. They will generally tend to increase costs and reduce costs and reduce
economic competitiveness.” Continues the report, “Claims of compaction will make
cities more sustainable have been debated for some time, but they lack conclusive
supporting evidence as to the environmental and, particularly, economic and social

There you have it. Right out of the pages of the APA’s own Journal, the very policies
that they are forcing on communities across the nation, are wrong. Forcing mass
migration into cities where people are to live in high density buildings, or homes on lots
so close together that the dog can’t squeeze between houses, have no effect on the
environment. But as I have stated in articles and speeches across the nation, such
“planning” creates an artificial shortage of land, causing housing costs to go up. It
doesn’t cut down on energy use or protect the environment. It’s a useless intrusion in
the lives of honest Americans.
And that is exactly why we are protesting Agenda 21. It is wrong. The premise is wrong.
The facts as presented by the APA and other planners, are wrong. It is wrong for our
nation. Wrong for property owners. Wrong for future generations.

In the 1970s, author Richard Bach, who wrote the classic book, Jonathan Livingston
Seagull, also wrote a second book entitled, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant
Messiah. In the book, a Messiah, as he was forced to come up with answers to the
problems of life, consulted the “Messiah’s Handbook.” All he had to do was open the
book and it would miraculously turn open to the very page containing the answer he
sought. He stumbled through his adventures, following the handbook. But finally, in the
end, as he consulted it a final time, the page read simply, “Everything in this book may
be wrong.

There is only one right approach for a community to come together to discuss and
solve common problem: open discussion, honest debates and votes, and above all, a
full concentration on the protection of private property rights as the ultimate decider.
The American Planning Association needs a new handbook!

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UN Dispatch: The UN Has Zero Interest in Invading Lubbock, Texas

23 August 2012

While the United Nations sometimes gets a bad rap for the things it actually does, or
even attempts to do, far more confusing are the stories that have been spun issuing dire
warnings of the things that the UN might do. There are conspiracy theories about the
UN and then there are conspiracy theories. The following is an example of the latter.

During the Arms Trade Treaty talks in July, there was an extremely outspoken number of
people who believed that the United Nations was seeking to supersede the Second
Amendment and strip American citizens of their guns. A City Councilwoman in Houston
once rejected a plan for new maintenance garages for city vehicles, on the grounds
that it hewed to the United Nations’ Agenda 21. (She voted for the other project she
linked to Agenda 21, though, as it came in under budget.)

Both of those notions seem tame compared to what was put forward by Judge Tom
Head of Lubbock County, Texas. In warning against a second term for President Barack
Obama, Judge Head, who comes by the title as Chief Executive of the county,
maintained that a ‘civil war’ would follow should the White House remain in Obama’s
hands. The local police force of course had to be built up in preparation for that
conflict and the coming invasion by…the United Nations:

The judge spun the elaborate conspiracy theory while calling for a 1.7 cent hike per
$100 on property taxes in Lubbock County, a measure being considered by the
commission there. He said he feared Obama would hand over sovereignty of the
United States to the United Nations and the unrest would naturally follow.

Under Head’s theory, the United Nations would then send in peacekeeping troops to try
to quell the violence and that’s where he would draw the line. He vowed to stand in
front of the county’s armored vehicle and stare down the U.N. troops if that happens.

The full interview can be viewed on Fox 34′s website here. Judge Head later attempted
to clean up his remarks, saying he was only considering a “worst-case scenario” and
that his theory on the UN was only “probably not” going to come to being. Many, many
holes still exist in Judge Head’s theory, which we’ll engage only as much as necessary.

The largest issue is his belief that the UN could send in “peacekeeping troops” to quell
violence in the US. Judge Head does manage to skirt the fact that the US would wield
its veto against any infringement upon its sovereignty in the Security Council by
claiming that President Obama would turn the keys of the country over to the UN. And,
indeed, the UN often does rely upon complicity from host countries when it deploys
peacekeeping missions.

What Head fails to understand is that even if the Security Council were to call for a
restoration of order in the US, the United Nations has no standing army. Instead, it
depends on Troop Contributing Countries to staff its peacekeeping missions. Given that
the UN is currently strapped for contributors to ongoing missions in the Democratic
Republic of the Congo, South Sudan and other hotspots, it’s doubtful there will be a
mad rush of volunteers to send troops into the United States.

The costs of such a mission would be astronomical as well, a burden that an imperiled
U.S. would be unlikely to contribute towards. Even in the Bizarro World where the United
Nations would want to invade Lubbock, Texas, it’s extremely unlikely that it would
actually be able to do so.

The millage that Head is seeking will likely yield many municipal benefits should it pass,
including the increased police force he’s been clamoring for. That strengthened force,
like the ‘Tiger Repellent’ of the old joke, should be sufficient to keep the UN at bay.

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United States

The New York Times: Coalition of Celebrities Speaks Out Against Gas Drilling

23 August 2012

More than 140 artists and celebrities, including Lady Gaga and Paul McCartney, have
formed a coalition to try to persuade Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to bar the use of
hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas in parts of New York State.
Yoko Ono and her son, Sean Lennon, plan to host an event Wednesday in New York
City to introduce the coalition, called Artists Against Fracking, which their publicists are
billing as the mother-son duo’s “first ever activist partnership.”

According to the invitation, the coalition includes the author Salman Rushdie, the
restaurateur Mario Batali and some of the biggest names in show business, including
Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, Julianne Moore and Gwyneth Paltrow. Some in the
group have homes near the upstate areas where the new drilling could take place.

“Our aim is for the world to embrace sustainable living and develop renewable
energies through economic viable alternatives to fossil fuel,” the group says on its Web

Ms. Ono and Mr. Lennon previously discussed their intention to form the coalition on
“Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.”

Such star power represents a coup for an antifracking movement in New York that so
far has counted on just a few celebrities, led by the Hollywood actor Mark Ruffalo, to
burnish its image. The new coalition comes amid increasingly visible opposition to Mr.
Cuomo’s consideration of new regulations that would allow fracking in some parts of
the state.

Polls show New Yorkers to be deeply divided over fracking, a technology that involves
blasting shale with millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals to release natural

On their Web site, the artists warn of the dangers of accidental contamination of
aquifers with drilling chemicals, and the wastewater that would be produced by drilling

But mostly, the celebrities take direct aim at the governor. Their Web site’s home page
gives out the number for his office and a web address for e-mails and urges people to
“Contact Governor Cuomo to voice your opinion!”

It is uncertain how much weight the artists’ opinions will have. But they are likely to
further energize the environmental movement, which is debating the oil and gas
industry and some landowners and local officials in communities that see drilling as a
source of new investment and jobs.

Brad Gill, executive director of the industry group Independent Oil and Gas Association
of New York, responded to the emergence of the coalition with a terse statement
saying that he trusted that Mr. Cuomo would rely on science to make a decision, as the
governor has pledged to do.

“The people elected Governor Cuomo, not celebrities, to lead New York and to make
decisions that are in the best interest of the environment, the state economy and the
people of the Southern Tier,” Mr. Gill said.
The industry association had previously dismissed antifracking celebrities, including Mr.
Ruffalo and Debra Winger, in a postcard delivered to lawmakers in Albany that said:
“Welcome to Hollywood, N.Y. where the line between fact and fiction is blurred.”

A spokesman for the governor, Joshua Vlasto, said Mr. Cuomo had not heard from the
artists directly. Asked by a reporter about hydrofracking on Wednesday, Mr. Cuomo
promised that “we will make a decision on the facts.

“There is extraordinary passion on both sides of the equation on fracking, and one of
the things we’re trying to do is say, I understand the emotion, I understand the passion, I
understand the demonstrations,” he said. “We’ve seen them pro and we’ve seen them
con all over the state. Let’s make the decision on the facts. Let the science dictate the
conclusion — and that’s just what we’re doing.”

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Washington Post: Mitt Romney says plan will achieve North American energy
independence by 2020

23 August 2012

LITTLE ROCK — Mitt Romney on Thursday will outline a plan that he projects would
achieve North American energy independence by 2020 by opening new areas for
offshore oil drilling, starting in Virginia and the Carolinas, and by empowering the states
to lease federal lands for oil, coal and natural gas development.

Under the plan, environmental statutes and regulations would be removed or loosened
to green-light more coal production and other industry priorities, and the United States
would reach agreements for energy production with Canada and Mexico, including to
build the Keystone XL Pipeline.

While President Obama has funneled federal dollars toward subsidies and loan
guarantees for wind, solar and other green-
energy industries, Romney would spend more broadly on research for new energy

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee plans to announce his agenda in a
speech in Hobbs, N.M. His campaign advisers previewed the policies with reporters
Wednesday afternoon.

In a 21-page report released by his campaign, Romney says the United States would
become “an energy superpower” by the end of his second term.

“We have an unprecedented opportunity to make our natural resources a long-term
source of competitive advantage for our nation,” Romney says in the report. “If we
develop these resources to the fullest, we will not only guarantee ourselves an
affordable and reliable supply of energy, but also enjoy benefits throughout our

Romney’s campaign estimates that the plan would have an economic impact of
$500 billion and result in 3 million new jobs, including more than 1 million in the
manufacturing sector. The campaign projects more than $1 trillion in revenue for
federal, state and local governments, although it did not specify over what period. It
promises lower energy prices for middle-class families.

Romney’s plan caters heavily to oil and coal interests, and oil executives are some of his
biggest benefactors. Romney spent Tuesday raising an estimated $7 million across
Texas, including $3 million at a dinner at the Petroleum Club of Midland. He spent the
night at the home of Miles Boldrick, founder of Statewide Minerals Co., which has stakes
in more than 25,000 oil wells.

Obama has attacked Romney over supporting subsidies to oil companies, suggesting
those tax breaks should instead go to producers of renewable domestic energy such as
wind and solar.

“My opponent thinks new sources of clean, homegrown energy like wind energy are
‘imaginary,’ ” Obama said Saturday in Rochester, N.H. “That’s what he called them.
Congressman Ryan said they were a ‘fad.’ Listen, since I took office, America has
doubled the use of renewable energy. Thousands of good American jobs have been
created. It’s helping us to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. That’s not imaginary,
that’s real.”

Romney’s strategists believe his energy policy offers a sharp contrast with Obama and
could be a winning issue for the Republican ticket. Senior adviser Ed Gillespie said
Romney plans to campaign on his energy plan through the fall sprint, adding, “We think
it’s a very high-priority issue for American voters.”

Romney’s plan for federally owned lands represents one of the most sweeping leasing
policies ever. The Interior Department controls leasing programs, but under Romney the
states would oversee the development and production of all forms of energy on
federal lands — and states, according to the plan, would have “maximum flexibility to
ascertain what is most appropriate.”

This has long been a priority for conservatives, especially those in Western states who
want to speed up the permitting process. Romney’s campaign says it takes 307 days for
the federal government to approve permits to drill a well, while North Dakota can
permit a project in 10 days.

In Utah, for instance, the Republican governor has signed legislation demanding that
the federal government transfer control of 30 million acres to the state.
Environmentalists strongly oppose transferring power to the states.
“Giving control of federal lands to states like Utah would result in destroyed treasured
landscapes, including those surrounding national parks,” said Scott Groene, executive
director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

“Sagebrush rebellion rhetoric comes and goes,” he added, “but it always stops when
Westerners realize what an economic and environmental disaster it would be for us to
hand over control of federal lands to the states.”

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Washington Post: Texas judge rules in favor of TransCanada in eminent domain

23 August 2012

A judge in Lamar County, Texas, ruled Wednesday night that TransCanada’s Keystone
XL pipeline has the right of eminent domain, rejecting a plea by farm manager Julia
Trigg Crawford and dealing a blow to landowners and environmentalists who have
been trying to block construction of the pipeline.

The ruling by Judge Bill Harris removes yet another potential obstacle for TransCanada,
which already has permits from the Army Corps of Engineers for the southern leg of the
pipeline, which starts in Cushing, Okla., and runs to Port Arthur, Texas. TransCanada has
said it will start building as soon as possible.

In March, President Obama endorsed the construction of the southern leg of the
pipeline. He said it would alleviate a supply bottleneck at Cushing, where the
benchmark price of oil is set for the U.S. market.

But environmental groups and some landowners have been mounting a campaign to
stop or delay construction because of the threat a leak might pose to rivers and

Crawford had asserted that the Keystone XL pipeline was not entitled to eminent
domain because the pipeline would not be a common carrier, open to a variety of oil
companies. She said that as a private project, it needed to negotiate rights of way
without compelling landowners to enter agreements.

Usually the option of using eminent domain for pipelines is granted by state agencies; in
Texas, it is recognized by the Texas Railroad Commission, a long-time regulator of the
state oil industry.

Eminent domain is a touchy topic in Texas. In 2002, Gov. Rick Perry proposed a Trans-
Texas Corridor, a private sector network of highways. The main artery would be a 600-
mile road running from Mexico to the Red River that would be the width of four football
fields. After an outcry about the seizure of private land — and increased traffic from
Mexico — the state transportation department killed the idea.

“Of course we are incredibly disappointed in today’s ruling,” Crawford said in an e-mail
late Wednesday night. “Disheartened that Texas landowners must still challenge oil
corporations in court on what should be State-level permitting issues .... and disturbed
that a foreign corporation like TransCanada is allowed to hide behind the skirt of the
Texas Railroad Commission and its Common Carrier rubber stamp.”

Jane Kleeb, an activist with the group Bold Nebraska who has been fighting the
pipeline’s eminent domain status, said in an e-mail Wednesday night that “A foreign oil
company — exporting a form of energy that our government is still studying and the
Canadian government just issued a safety violation on — gets to seize American land
without proving they are a common carrier and without any requirement that
Americans get a drop of the oil. There is something wrong with this picture.”

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CNN: Texas judge warns of civil war if Obama is re-elected

23 August 2012

(CNN) -- An elected county judge in Texas is warning that the nation could descend
into civil war if President Barack Obama is re-elected, and is calling for a trained, well-
equipped force to battle the United Nations troops he says Obama would bring in.

The comments by Lubbock County Judge Tom Head, who oversees emergency
planning efforts, were broadcast by CNN affiliate KJTV. He made similar remarks on
radio station FOX Talk 950.

Saying that as the county's emergency management coordinator he has to "think
about the very worst thing that can happen and prepare for that and hope and pray
for the best," Head told radio host Jeff Klotzman that he believes "in this political climate
and financial climate, what is the very worst thing that could happen right now?
Obama gets back in the White House. No. God forbid."

Referring to unexplained "executive orders" and other documents that Obama and "his
minions have filed," Head said, "regardless of whether the Republicans take over the
Senate, which I hope they do, he is going to make the United States Congress and he's
going to make the Constitution irrelevant. He's got his czars in place that don't answer
to anybody."

Obama, Head said, will "try to give the sovereignty of the United States away to the
United Nations. What do you think the public's going to do when that happens? We are
talking civil unrest, civil disobedience, possibly, possibly civil war ... I'm not talking just
talking riots here and there. I'm talking Lexington, Concord, take up arms, get rid of the
dictator. OK, what do you think he is going to do when that happens? He is going to
call in the U.N. troops, personnel carriers, tanks and whatever."

Head vowed to personally stand "in front of their personnel carriers and say, 'You're not
coming in here.' And I've asked the sheriff. I said, 'Are you going to back me on this?'
And he said, 'Yeah, I'm going to back you.' Well, I don't want a bunch of rookies back
there who have no training and little equipment. I want seasoned veteran people who
are trained that have got equipment. And even then, you know we may have two or
three hundred deputies facing maybe a thousand U.N. troops. We may have to call out
the militia."

Sheriff Kelly Rowe told KJTV there had been no conversation about such a civil war
scenario. The two have discussed contingencies for emergency management, he said.

KJTV reported that the warning was linked to taxes. Head "indicates a tax increase is
needed to shore up law enforcement to protect us," the station reported, adding that a
tax increase is under consideration that "would largely benefit the district attorney and
sheriff's offices. But the emphasis is more on salary competitiveness than doomsday

Head made his controversial remarks Tuesday.

On Wednesday at a county commissioner meeting, he emphasized that his remarks
were about "worst case scenario in my opinion," and added, "Do I think those are going
to happen? Probably not."

County Commissioner Gilbert Flores told KJTV he was "ashamed" of Head's remarks, and
told the judge, "I think you better plan to go fishing pretty soon."

Attorney Rod Hobson jokingly put up U.N. flags outside his Lubbock office, KJTV
reported. "When I saw the story I thought, once again, Lubbock is going to be the
laughingstock of the entire nation," said Hobson. "What makes it so sad is he is our
elected county judge, who is in charge of a multi-million dollar budget. That is scary. It's
like the light's on, but no one is home... I'd just like to think he's off his meds."

But video from the Wednesday meeting showed at least one citizen supporting him.
"Judge Head, thank you, and God bless," one citizen said.

Head did not immediately respond to an e-mail or phone call to his office Thursday

KJTV reported that an aide to Head said the judge will not be commenting for one or
two days.

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Climate Wire: Researchers have measuring stick for Antarctic Peninsula warming

23 August 2012

The Antarctic Peninsula is warming faster than almost any other place on Earth.
Temperatures there have risen by nearly 5 degrees Fahrenheit over the past 50 years,
with dramatic results, including the rapid collapse of several floating ice shelves.

For scientists, understanding the role man-made climate change has played is tricky.
Modern weather measurements on the Antarctic Peninsula began in the 1940s, leaving
only a few decades of temperature data for researchers to analyze.

But a 1,200-foot ice core drilled off the northeastern tip of the peninsula in 2008 could
help scientists put modern warming in context. It's "unusual, but not unprecedented,"
over the 15,000-year period reconstructed with ice core data, British Antarctic Survey
researchers said in a paper published yesterday in Nature.

Their analysis also suggests that, since 1920, man-made climate change has rapidly
accelerated a slow, steady warming of the peninsula that began 600 years ago.

That one-two punch drove the disintegration of several ice shelves in recent years,
including Prince Gustav and Larsen A in 1995 and Larsen B in 2002, said lead author
Robert Mulvaney, a British Antarctic Survey climatologist.

"The warming that began 600 years ago started to take us back to temperatures where
the ice shelves were pretty close to equilibrium with the environment, poised to break
up," Mulvaney said. "The rapid warming we've experienced in the last few decades
pushed them over the edge."

The rate of warming jumped from 0.36 degrees Fahrenheit per century 600 years ago to
about 5 degrees Fahrenheit per century over the past 50 years, the 15,000-year ice
core record shows.

15,000-year-old ice shelves due to break up

"We may well see more ice shelves break up in the next few decades, and they may
well be ice shelves that have been stable since the last glacial period," Mulvaney said.

He led the British Antarctic Survey team that drilled the ice core on James Ross Island in
2007 and 2008, hoping to understand natural variations in climate over the past 15,000
years, from the end of the last ice age to the present day.
Analyses of ocean sediments suggested that, along the Antarctic Peninsula, ice shelves
had formed, collapsed and reformed during that period. The scientists wanted to
understand why, to help put recent ice shelf collapses in context.

"You can see in satellite photos, ice shelves can disappear in a fortnight," Mulvaney
said. "It looks iconic, catastrophic. We also know from meteorological records that this is
one of the fastest-warming areas on Earth. What we were trying to do was see whether
what is happening today is part of a natural cycle, entirely, or unprecedented, or no
cause for concern."

While the ice core record shows the Antarctic Peninsula has been as warm as or
warmer than it is today over the past 15,000 years, Mulvaney said what is unusual is that
today, many places on the planet are showing similarly dramatic warming.

A 1,200-foot-long 'context'

"The most recent warming is unusual and really rather rapid," he said. "It's consistent with
warming you see elsewhere on Earth. It's consistent with ice shelves breaking up and
probably predicts further ice shelves may break up in the next decade."

Eric Steig, a geochemist at the University of Washington, said the new paper helps
make the case that human influence has driven warming on the peninsula for the past
several decades.

He added that he hopes it will help scientists understand how much of that influence is
the result of warming caused by man-made greenhouse gas emissions and how much
is warming caused by the man-made ozone hole over Antarctica, which has altered
wind patterns over the frozen continent.

"It's very easy to look at the modern data from the last 50 years or so and say [the
Antarctic Peninsula] is warming up really fast, but if you don't have context for
something is typical or rare, it's very hard to interpret it," Steig said.

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Energy Wire: SEC provides 'WikiLeaks moment' for oil and gas producers

23 August 2012

U.S. regulators have rejected claims by oil and gas companies that a requirement to
disclose payments to foreign governments is so big of a burden that it outweighs a
broader goal of choking off corruption in countries where they operate.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in a 2-1 vote yesterday approved a rule
requiring U.S.-listed multinational oil and gas producers such as Exxon Mobil Corp. and
Chevron Corp. to report taxes, royalties, bonuses, fees and dividends paid to the U.S.
and foreign governments for access to resources.

"The philosophy of fair and full disclosure is one of the cornerstones of the federal
securities framework," Commissioner Luis Aguilar said in a statement explaining his
support for the rule.

The disclosure requirement for publicly traded companies is embedded in Section 1504
of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. For years, human
rights groups have pushed for a disclosure requirement that could help chip away at
the "resource curse" problem, where corrupt officials in oil and natural gas-rich countries
siphon off royalty payments to line their pockets instead of using that money for the
public good.

Today, advocates for disclosure say it is particularly important because unconventional
energy development is pushing into remote parts of the world, into places like East
Africa and Papua New Guinea. Rules governing oil and gas extraction are
underdeveloped in the energy frontiers, they say, and limited transparency around
contracts shrouds deals between oil producers and host governments in secrecy.

Signed into law in 2010, Dodd-Frank directs the SEC to require U.S.-listed oil, gas and
minerals producers to report on a yearly basis "the type and total amount of payments
made for each project." The commission took more than two years to sort through
conflicting opinions on the definition of an energy project, costs and effects on
competition, and whether information given to regulators should be made public. A
proposed rule attracted comments from groups and people as disparate as the
American Petroleum Institute (API) and lobbyists for member companies and
proponents Oxfam America, Publish What You Pay, investor George Soros and
Microsoft's Bill Gates.

By the spring, the long delay in issuing a final rule fueled speculation among Capitol Hill
sponsors that the SEC was purposely slow-walking the contentious disclosure measure.
In March, Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.), both advocates of the
disclosure rule, met with commissioners to urge them to finalize the rulemaking.

"It appears the commission has largely upheld congressional intent and not caved to
industry lobbying," said Ian Gary, senior policy manager for Oxfam America. Gary had
not read the full final rule because it was not made public by late in the day, but he
said there is continuing concern that the SEC's decision to give companies discretion to
determine what constitutes a project under the disclosure rule could be abused.

API, the Washington-based oil industry trade group, reiterated its opposition to the SEC
rule. API's chief economist, John Felmy, said public disclosure of payments will shine too
much light on U.S. companies' strategies for winning drilling contracts, putting them at a
disadvantage against large state-owned oil and gas competitors in China, Russia and
Iran that don't have to play by the same rules.
"This unilateral approach to revenue disclosure will harm the U.S. economy," Felmy said.
"U.S. firms could lose business, U.S. jobs might not be created, and potential revenue to
our government could be lost."

Gas 'project' goes undefined

An analysis by ClearView Energy Partners, which refers to the rule as a "WikiLeaks
moment" for oil companies operating overseas, says the rule could "impose very real
competitive challenges for U.S. companies." Disclosing secret concessions, leases and
production-sharing agreements could lead to bids being undercut by competitors
exempt from the reporting requirement, ClearView asserts.

"At the high end," says the analysis, "impact could include having concessions
rescinded by host governments made uncomfortable by public knowledge of
generous terms."

SEC staff also acknowledged that there could be substantial costs and competitive
issues associated with disclosures but noted that no industry analysis put a dollar figure
on the impact.

Under the rule, companies must report payments that exceed $100,000. The annual
disclosure applies to fiscal years ending after Sept. 30, 2013.

Oil companies pressed the SEC not to go beyond the industry's Extractive Industries
Transparency Initiative (EITI), a World Bank-endorsed program that asks companies and
governments to report total yearly payments tied to oil revenues. SEC staff said the
language in Dodd-Frank required the commission to do more by requiring an
expanded breakdown of payments by project and by country. The SEC, however, left it
up to each company to define an energy "project."

Advocates of the measure pushed back against the industry's assertions about
competition. They argued that a rule applying to companies trading on U.S.-regulated
exchanges and a similar rule under consideration in Europe together cover most major
foreign producers through their subsidiaries.

Global development groups say payment disclosure would reinforce the Foreign
Corrupt Practices Act, which bans companies from bribing foreign officials. Advocates
in the investor world contend that creating a better paper trail of payments to
governments opens the door to more detailed analyses of political risks faced by oil
and gas producers.

"The SEC acknowledged that the disclosure was necessary for investor protection," said
Paul Bugala, senior sustainability analyst for Calvert Investments in Bethesda, Md. "We
need to begin a new era of transparency in the oil, gas and mining sectors to address
those risks."
Chairwoman Mary Schapiro and Commissioner Troy Paredes recused themselves from
the proceeding. Commissioner Daniel Gallagher was the single "no" vote. Among other
things, he said the SEC should not be in the business of trying to fix social ills through
financial regulation.

"Some have pressed the argument that we have no choice here," he said. "To the
contrary, I believe we have considerable choice as to how we do nearly everything we

Bugala and other supporters said the disclosure requirement falls well within the
commission's core responsibility.

"This is a very appropriate role for the SEC to be in," Bugala said. "Protecting investors
means promoting disclosure of payments."

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Climate Wire: 2012 on track to be worst wildfire year on record

23 August 2012

With almost 7 million acres already burned this summer and the end of wildfire season
still many weeks away, 2012 is shaping up to be the worst wildfire year on record,
federal data show.

Currently, 2006 holds that title, with 9.8 million acres burned. 2007 follows close behind,
with 9.3 million acres.

Already, though, the amount of land burned in the first eight months of 2012 has
exceeded that of the same period for both those years, and forest officials predict an
abnormally long fire season this year due to the summer's severe drought.

Large fires in the Rocky Mountain West ripped through parts of Colorado, Montana and
New Mexico earlier this summer, severely damaging the city of Colorado Springs in early
July. As the season wears on, forest managers expect to see fire activity shift westward,
as it typically does in August and September.

"We've seen high levels of activity this year in the eastern Great Basin area, the northern
Rockies, the South and the Southwest," said Jennifer Jones, a public affairs specialist at
the Forest Service. "Typically, we see these [more central] regions getting out of the fire
season this time of year and activity picking up in the California region."

Indeed, California and Idaho are the current hot spots for U.S. fire activity. A fire in
Northern California has destroyed about 50 homes in a thickly forested region north of
Sacramento, and a fire in the Boise National Forest has destroyed 94,700 acres near the
town of Featherville, Idaho.

More fires, fewer resources to fight them

With climate change edging temperatures steadily higher, many scientists see a direct
correlation between global warming and increased fire extent. According to a
recent study published in the journalEcosphere, 38 percent of the planet will likely see
increased fire activity over the next 30 years.

In the United States, that could pose problems for forest officials already struggling with
budget cuts amid an uptick in fires.

The current spate of wildfires, coming on the heels of an only slightly less severe fire
season in 2011, has left federal forestry budgets stretched thin. Partially due to
budgetary constraints, the Forest Service recently suspended its policy of letting smaller,
natural fires burn out, citing the high cost of managing such fires (ClimateWire, Aug. 21).

Even given the long-term warming trends projected by climatologists, foresters are
hopeful that the natural variability of the fire cycle will persist, creating buffer years
when conditions are less ignition-prone and they can continue prescribed-burn
restoration efforts.

Jones pointed to the years 2008 to 2010, when, after a spate of increased fire activity,
levels dropped to well below the 10-year average.

"Even given long-term trends of climate change ... as well as fiscal constraints for the
foreseeable future, there could well be years where we have more leeway for fires with
restoration strategies because we don't have both factors occurring at once," she said.

Fires this year have already damaged 1,859 homes.

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Climate Wire: Scientists engineer bacteria to make fuel from CO2

23 August 2012

Researchers have developed a new pathway to get one of the tiniest forms of life to
make fuel.

By breathing in carbon dioxide and hydrogen, an engineered version of the
bacterium Ralstonia eutropha produced branched alcohols, compounds that can be
blended with gasoline or serve as an energy source on their own. This could help
repurpose carbon emissions in a way that can generate money.
The researchers, who published their findings earlier this month in Applied Microbiology
and Biotechnology, initially studied this bacterium because it can form polymers under
stress. "We've been looking at this organism for 25 years now," said Anthony Sinskey, one
of the report's co-authors and a professor of microbiology at the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology.

He noted that Russian scientists also investigated R. eutropha as a way to scrub carbon
dioxide from their manned spacecraft and to serve as a potential food source.

The bacterium's versatility stems from the soils it dwells in, where it claws and competes
with fungi, animals and other bacteria for whatever nutrient scraps come its way. "I think
it's grown up in an environment where it's got to sneak a living," Sinskey said. "It's really a
survival organism." As a result,R. eutropha can repurpose whatever it can eat -- sugars,
fats, oils, carbon dioxide -- to make the proteins and polymers essential for its existence.

With funding from the Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-
Energy, the scientists found they could get the microorganism to make other useful
chemicals and even fuels with a little bit of genetic tweaking.

Scaling production up, costs down

Using a strain first isolated in Germany, the team altered a pathway R.
eutropha normally uses to make branched amino acids, some of the basic units of
proteins. "We did not disrupt any of the growth-related genes," said Jingnan Lu, the
study's lead author and a chemistry doctoral student at MIT. "We're mainly diverting
away intermediates." This is critical because the scientists want to ensure the bacteria
still thrive while making fuel, so they have to balance the organism's survival needs and
their production demands.

The upgraded bacteria produced branched alcohols with concentrations topping 270
milligrams per liter. The researchers found they could push this even higher by removing
alcohols every 24 hours from the bacterial cells, leading to fuel concentrations above
14 grams per liter over 50 days.

Christopher Brigham, another co-author and a research scientist in MIT's Department of
Biology, explained that the bacteria could then be cultured in a bioreactor, where they
grow on a stream of carbon dioxide coming from a coal-fired generator or a steel
processing plant.

"One of the key things to think about in designing a reactor for this is that the fuel
product we're making is toxic to the bacteria," he said, observing that such a device
would have to remove the alcohols as they are made. "Ideally, we want to make a
continuous bioreactor."

This approach offers some advantages over other bacterial biofuel pathways, such as
those that useEscherichia coli to make ethanol. R. eutropha does not need biomass or
sugar to grow and will still function when exposed to pollutants and contaminants like
carbon monoxide. Branched alcohols can also work as drop-in fuels, unlike ethanol,
which requires specifically modified engines.

With rising grain and food commodity prices, a biofuel pathway that only uses waste
gases may become an attractive option for energy producers, according to Sinksey. R.
eutropha could also benefit the climate. "It will make a contribution, but don't count on
this to [completely] remove greenhouse gases," he said.

The researchers will now focus on optimizing their bacteria to bring its fuel production
up while bringing its costs down. "Instead of milligrams per liter, we need to get to grams
per liter," Sinskey said.

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Globe and Mail: Why dead caribou matter in Quebec politics

23 August 2012

In Quebec politics, it matters whether you’re a caribou or a kangaroo.

This came up again on Wednesday night, in a key moment in the final televised debate
of the Quebec election campaign, pitting François Legault of the Coalition Avenir
Québec against Parti Québécois Leader Pauline Marois.

Mr. Legault, a former PQ member, criticized Ms. Marois as being beholden to radical
elements in the separatist movement.

“So if the caribou take us into the ravine, you’re going to say ‘Yes’,” Mr. Legault told Ms.

He was alluding to a 1984 natural disaster in northern Quebec.

Late in September of that year, a herd of 10,000 caribou drowned while trying to cross
the Caniapiscau river, near the Inuit town of Kuujjuaq. At the time, the PQ, still reeling
from the defeat of the 1980 referendum and its loss of popularity after two electoral
mandates, was split between hardliners who wanted to keep emphasizing the fight for
independence and those who wanted to soft-pedal the party’s raison d’être.

The lemming-like behaviour of the caribou has since been used to mock the hardliners –
who are also dubbed “les purs et durs,” or “pure and hard” – because they are willing
to risk plunging into a referendum fight even if the current is against them.
The other faction, meanwhile, were mocked as “kangaroos” because, like marsupials
who store their babies in their pouches, they are hiding what is dearest to them.

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The Montreal Gazette: Treading on thin ice: Thawing arctic puts spotlight on
Harper’s northern ambitions

23 August 2012

OTTAWA — As Prime Minister Stephen Harper prepares to wind up his seventh
consecutive annual tour of the Canadian Arctic on Friday, the circumpolar ice cover is
in the midst of a record-setting thaw — the deepest meltdown yet in a six-year series of
severe summertime retreats that has overlapped almost exactly with the Conservative
government’s time in power.

The effect has been a cryospheric underscoring of the timeliness of several aspects of
the government’s ambitious Arctic policy, including its unapologetic encouragement of
northern industrial development in an increasingly unlocked treasure-house of
resources, its promised investments in Arctic shipping and security, and its heightened
attention to Canada’s central role in the emerging, high-stakes realm of international
Arctic geopolitics.

At the same time, however, the unprecedented ice retreat — possibly pointing toward
ice-free Septembers in the Arctic within a decade, a leading U.S. expert has told
Postmedia News — is widely seen as the clearest sign yet that serious impacts from
global climate change are already at hand, a petroleum-fuelled environmental crisis
that’s not easily reconciled with Canada’s determination to exploit its increasingly
accessible Arctic oil riches.

Harper’s northern tour this week has emphasized opportunity over peril. While
acknowledging that economic development should be pursued in ways that “leave us
with lands and territories that will continue to support good human activity and human
habitation for many centuries to come,” he used the backdrop of a Yukon copper-gold
mine to showcase the “expected boom in mineral exploration and development
during the decades to come.”

He added, with a reference to the open-pit Minto Mine he visited on Tuesday northeast
of Whitehorse, that “such is the magnitude of the North’s resource wealth that we are
only, quite literally, just scratching the surface.”

The government’s campaign to cast the Canadian North as key to the country’s
economic future has unfolded in perfect sync with the recent period of extraordinary
Arctic ice retreats, which first caught the world’s attention in the summer of 2007. Just
weeks after a Russian research sub had provocatively planted that country’s flag on
the North Pole seabed, sparking sudden concerns about Canada’s Arctic sovereignty,
the polar ice cover retreated to a September minimum of slightly more than four million
square kilometres, by far the biggest summer meltdown since satellites began tracking
the region’s ice extent in the 1970s.

But that was just the beginning. Since scientists first rang alarm bells about the state of
the ice five years ago, the Arctic has experienced the five biggest summer retreats on
record over the past five years, with this year’s extreme melt — still about three weeks
from ending — already making it six in a row, and likely to mark the first time in the
satellite era that Arctic ice cover will shrink to less than four million square kilometres by
summer’s end.

“Our best estimate, based on the decline rates we’ve seen in this decade at this time of
year, is that the minimum will be below four million square kilometres,” said Ted
Scambos, lead scientist at the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center, a Colorado-
based institute that closely tracks the annual ebb and flow of Arctic sea ice.

While discounting the notion that Arctic ice is subject to a meltdown “tipping point”
from which it couldn’t recover, Scambos told Postmedia News that “what is clear is that
the present temperatures — for the past decade — and the rate of warming in the
Arctic will likely lead to an ice-free late summer within 10 to 20 years.”

“Ice-free” is defined by the NSIDC as less than one million square kilometres of ice
coverage, a virtual vanishing act for a planetary feature that typically grows to a winter
maximum of 14 million square kilometres.

Scambos noted that overall ice volume in the Arctic is “about 40 per cent of what it
was four decades ago,” and that “September ice extent is about 55 per cent of what it
was then.”

The trend toward an ice-free Arctic in a near-future September or even August has
added a sense of urgency and — for development advocates — considerable appeal
to the Canadian government’s resource-focused northern strategy.

The government’s own mission statement on the plan, its 2009 report titled Canada’s
Northern Strategy: Our North, Our Heritage, Our Future, made clear that the retreating
Arctic ice, for all of its potential impacts on northern communities, was a factor that
fortuitously favoured increased economic activity, shipping and tourism in Canada’s

“Reduced ice coverage and longer periods of navigability may result in an increased
number of ships undertaking destination travel for tourism, natural resource exploration
or development,” the government stated in the document.

“International interest in the North has intensified because of the potential for resource
development, the opening of new transportation routes, and the growing impacts of
climate change,” it was also noted in Canada’s Northern Strategy. “In September 2007,
satellite imaging verified that the Northwest Passage had less than 10 per cent ice
coverage, making it, by definition, ‘fully navigable’ for several weeks.”

While opposition critics have slammed the Conservative government for paying too
little attention to the negative consequences of climate change in the North, Harper’s
published plan for the Arctic did acknowledge that “the effects of environmental
change, such as shifting and melting permafrost, melting glaciers, shrinking ocean ice
and a shortened season for ice roads could have significant cultural and economic
consequences for the people of the North, and the entire nation.”

The strategy also conceded that “new development projects may increase the number
of pollutants, threatening Northerners’ health and the region’s fragile ecosystems” —
fears highlighted, for example, by international concern over the future of Canada’s
polar bears and their ice-dependent hunting strategies.

“The changes in the Arctic are, no doubt, good for the economy of the Arctic (from a
‘Western’ perspective) — mining, drilling, logging, fishing, and transportation all stand to
benefit,” Scambos said in an email message.

“But most of the people in Canada live much further south. The changes in the Arctic
are having an impact on temperate-latitude weather, and will increasingly do so in the
future. It may be a mixed bag.”

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CBC News: Harper commits $188M for new Arctic research centre

23 August 2012

The federal government is spending $188 million to build and operate a new Arctic
research centre that will be vital to protecting Canada's sovereignty, Prime Minister
Stephen Harper said today in Nunavut.

He also announced the companies picked to design the new Canadian High Arctic
Research Station (CHARS), which will be located in Cambridge Bay. They are two
Montreal-based architect firms: Fournier Gersovitz Moss Drolet et associés architects
and NFOE et associés architectes.

"The North is a fundamental part of Canada's heritage, future and identity, and we
must continue to assert our sovereignty over Canada's Arctic," Harper said in a news
release. "This new station will undertake science and technology…research that will
support the responsible development of Canada's North, inform environmental
stewardship and enhance the quality of life of Northerners and all Canadians."
The government plans to spend $142.4 million over the next six years on construction,
equipment and start-up costs for the facility and $46.2 million over the next six years on
its science and technology research program. The government said the program will
be phased in starting this year, but didn't specify when.

It said the centre is expected to be fully operational in 2017 and to employ between 35
and 50 part-time and full-time employees. Beyond 2018, the government is budgeting
$26.5 million per year to run the station.

Harper is touting CHARS as a pivotal piece of his government's strategy for the North
and he says it will help position Canada as a global leader in Arctic science and
technology. Providing work, skills and experience for Northerners in the labour force is
another benefit, according to the prime minister, and just building the centre is
estimated to create 150 jobs.

Harper said Canada needs to know its North in order to exercise sovereignty over it and
to protect its land, resources and water.

CHARS is mandated to focus on four priority areas:

      resource development.
      exercising sovereignty.
      environmental stewardship and climate change.
      strong and healthy communities.

The Conservatives promised to build a new Arctic station back in 2007 and the
government has already spent millions on its development. The 2009 budget dedicated
$2 million to a feasibility study and Budget 2010 committed $18 million over four years to
translating the feasiblity study into a design for the station.

Eureka station forced to close

Harper's funding announcement for the new centre Thursday comes soon after another
research facility had to close its doors because of a lack of funding. The Polar
Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL) in Eureka, Nunavut, was
Canada's northernmost research laboratory.

The station, on Ellesmere Island, had been tracking ozone depletion, air quality and
climate change in the High Arctic since 2005. Its research was used to detect and
analyze the largest hole in the ozone over the Arctic ever detected last year.

The Canadian Network for Detection of Atmospheric Change, an informal network of
university researchers that ran the station, wasn't able to secure the $1.5-million annual
funding needed to operate it year-round and they are winding down operations.

Three-quarters of its funding came from the Canadian Foundation for Climate and
Atmospheric Sciences and the International Polar Year program, but Harper's
government stopped funding those programs and the money dried up. The scientists
applied for other government grants but weren't successful.

James Drummond, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Physics and Atmospheric
Science at Dalhousie University, said in an interview Thursday that his group struggled to
write the proposals because they were asked about the industrial benefits of the

"Something that benefits the Canadian population can't be tied down to any one
industry," he said. Drummond, who has worked at PEARL since the beginning, said the
government has shifted its focus for research funding to programs that support industrial

Harper has been emphasizing the North's economic potential during his trip and that
concerns Drummond.

"The North is not only about economic activity. Do we only value the North for the
amount of money we can make out of it?"

Drummond said the $26 million announced Thursday to operate CHARS could be good
news but he wants more details on what exact research is going to be carried out
there. He also noted that it is a large budget compared to the $1.5 million that PEARL
needed to keep going full-time.

"The slight reservation I have with the program as put forward is it's a very industrial-
driven program and there's more to the North than industry," he said.

Drummond and other scientists involved with the PEARL say the new station won't be an
adequate replacement and is years away from being operational in any case. PEARL
was much further north in the High Arctic and was one of the world's closest centres to
the North Pole, whereas Cambridge Bay is 1,300 kilometres south of Eureka. Closing
PEARL means the loss of important data from the High Arctic, some of the scientists said.

Drummond said scientists are planning on making one more trip to Eureka before the
end of the year and will install as many automated machines as they can to collect
data over the winter. He's hoping some funding will come through so PEARL can resume
full-time operations.

Harper is on his seventh tour of the North, a trip he makes every summer. He announced
the boundaries of a new national park reserve on Wednesday in the Northwest
Territories and earlier in the week he visited a mine in Yukon to announce the
completion of a new resource revenue sharing agreement with the territory's

Harper also announced Thursday that Parks Canada was launching a new effort to find
the ships lost in Sir John Franklin's expedition to the Arctic in the mid-1800s.
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Calgary Herald: Calgary enjoys warmest summer since 2003, says Environment

23 August 2012

CALGARY — It’s not just in your head, Calgary. We really are getting some terrific

With just over a week left in August, forecasters are tentatively declaring this one of the
warmest summers the city has seen in a decade.

“We’re on track for being very close to the warmest summer we’ve had in the last 10
years,” said Environment Canada meteorologist Bill McMurtry.

After June got off to a wet start — nearly doubling seasonal norms for precipitation with
146.8 millimetres of rainfall — southern Alberta brought the sunshine in July and August.

Temperatures have averaged up to two degrees above normal in the past two months,
McMurtry said.

With average highs nudging more than 25 Celsius, August is already more than 2.5
degrees above the seasonal norm.

Even so, McMurtry said, 2003 is still officially the warmest summer in the past decade.

“We’re going to tie, or get very close to tying, the warmest summer we’ve had in the
last 10 years.”

The fine weather has also helped some of the city’s more weather-sensitive businesses.

Warm temperatures came just in time for Phil Laprairie.

The air conditioning and heating specialist said his industry was hard hit hard with the
demise of the federal home retrofit rebate program last winter.

Rainy weather in early June had Laprairie worried that summer sales would also suffer.

Then, early in July, the clouds cleared and the sun came out with a vengeance.

“All of a sudden it broke loose and it hasn’t backed off. People are buying air
conditioners,” said Laprairie, who works with Arpi’s Industries.
“No pun intended, it’s been a very hot summer for us.”

On sunny days, a steady stream of vehicles jam downtown Cochrane as dessert-lusting
Calgarians seek out one of southern Alberta’s best known ice cream parlours.

The fine weather has been good for business at Mackays Ice Cream, where 4,500
cones can be scooped on a busy day.

“We’ve had some pretty crazy days this summer. The line can be all the way down the
block,” said Belinda Gillett of Mackays. “We get lots of people from Calgary. Local
people don’t drive downtown in Cochrane anywhere close to Mackays on a weekend
because of the traffic.”

Northeast of Calgary, the Bearspaw Country Club is enjoying a stellar season.

Traffic on the greens is up 20 per cent, said Wib Lamb, a spokesperson for the course.

“The weather has certainly been outstanding and doesn’t show any signs of letting up.”

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Canadian Business: Alberta government makes third attempt at balancing
oilsands, environment

22 August 2012

EDMONTON - The Alberta government is enacting a sweeping plan for its controversial
oilsands region in another attempt to balance development and the environment.

"Alberta's last period of hyper-growth clearly demonstrated the need for responsible
long-term use planning," Environment Minister Diana McQueen said Wednesday as she
announced the plan for the lower Athabasca region.

"In a new time of strong growth, the need to plan for the area that contains our main
economic driver is abundantly clear."

The strategy, which comes into force Sept.1, creates six new conservation areas that
total three times the size of Banff National Park.

Existing conventional oil and natural gas tenures will be honoured in the protected
areas. But no oilsands development will be allowed unless access can be had from
outside the boundaries through, for example, horizontal drilling. That means talks will
begin for 19 energy companies on cancelling their leases and compensating them.

No new tenures will be sold.
The plan also increases protected habitat for threatened woodland caribou by
prohibiting energy and forestry activity in the Dillon River Conservation Region, which is
to be expanded from 27,000 hectares to 192,000 hectares.

The plan also legally commits the government to establish contaminant limits for air,
surface and ground water, and sets up firm timetables for that to be done. McQueen
said the limits will be legally enforceable through the regulatory system.

"There will be thresholds and triggers and targets. We will work with industry so that they
will know they can't go over those numbers."

The plan addresses infrastructure and planning concerns in Fort McMurray, and also
promises tourism opportunities through nine new provincial recreation areas. A regional
trail system is also promised.

McQueen said it will cost about $30 million to set up infrastructure for the new parks.

Simon Dyer of the environmental think-tank Pembina Institute called the plan a good

He said it was "problematic" to allow existing energy and mineral tenures to continue in
conservation areas, but welcomed the exclusion of oilsands mining. He did point out
that the conservation areas are clustered where there is little bitumen.

"I think we're going to have to revisit this, particularly around caribou," Dyer said. "The
plan only protects around 20 per cent of caribou habitat in the region and caribou
continue to decline."

Nor does it address the growing greenhouse gas emissions from the oilsands, he said.

"Alberta needs to take a similar level of seriousness to address growing greenhouse gas

David Pryce of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers said the plan is one
that the industry can live with.

"The overall product is very good," he said. "The province tried very hard to strike a
balance over where the value of the resource is and I think they've done a pretty good
job of it."

Pryce said companies that will lose oilsands leases are likely to seek compensation for
both the value of the lease and the profits they won't be able to earn.

"The lost opportunity cost is an important part of the discussion for industry."

The purchase value of the leases is about $30 million, said McQueen.
Two previous attempts to provide some sort of planning for the region foundered.

Alberta introduced its first try strategy in 2005. It proposed that oilsands extraction would
be the priority in the entire area. Environmentalists called it a formula for turning the
entire region over to industry and the plan was rapidly shot down.

The next one, the first draft of what will come into effect in September, was introduced
by Mel Knight, who was environment minister at the time, in April 2011. Energy
companies quickly voiced concerns that that version would mean they'd lose access to
some oilsands deposits that some firms had already bought leases for. They wanted to
know how they would be compensated.

Environmentalists still didn't like it either. They pointed out the plan would allow all
proposed oilsands developments to proceed — even in protected areas. They also said
the plan deliberately avoided setting aside land in areas where development pressure
was heaviest.

That draft died after all Tory candidates vying to replace retiring premier Ed Stelmach
backed away from it, including his eventual successor Alison Redford.

The latest land-use plan is intended as the first of seven that will ultimately cover the
entire province and guide its development.

It's part of the government's response to both Canadian and international critics that
oilsands development has gone too far, too fast, and that it has outstripped the
government's ability to regulate it.

That response also includes an extensive and expanded program of environmental
monitoring for the oilsands region being implemented by the federal and provincial

Monitoring work has begun, but the province has yet to detail how it will be funded and
how much independence it will have. A report on how it should be overseen was
delivered to both levels of government at the end of June, but has not yet been made

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Winnipeg Free Press: An NDP government would quit Northern Gateway
environmental assessment: Dix

22 August 2012
VANCOUVER - B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix says if he is elected premier next May, his
government will withdraw from the current environmental assessment of the Northern
Gateway project and set up a "made in B.C." review instead.

That independent review will allow British Columbia to "reassert its authority" over the
assessment of the controversial Enbridge (TSX: ENB) pipeline, power that Dix says the
provincial Liberal government has turned over to the federal cabinet.

"If we do nothing, then the decision of the B.C. government will be made by [Prime
Minister] Stephen Harper," he told reporters Wednesday.

"I don't think that's acceptable to British Columbians. I think the people of B.C. want to
have a voice in that process and we intend to provide that."

The panel reviewing the project jointly represents the National Energy Board and the
Canadian Environmental Assessment Authority.

More than 4,000 people and groups have asked to make oral submissions at the panel

The panel has been holding hearings across Alberta and B.C., and has heard oral
evidence from 16 B.C. communities since January.

The panel will be hearing from more people in Victoria, Vancouver and Kelowna early
next year, and the hearings are expected to wrap up next April with a report due by
the end of 2013.

One month after the hearings end, British Columbians will go to the polls in a provincial

Dix's opposition to the Northern Gateway project was outlined in a letter submitted to
the Joint Review Panel in April.

He reiterated his position on Wednesday, prompting B.C. Aboriginal Relations Minister
Mary Polak to question the credibility of the kind of review Dix proposes.

"One would think maybe (Dix) should have announced (the review) prior to (the NDP)
taking a position on the pipeline because, of course, for a review to be seen as fair and
to be seen as unbiased, you need...not to have already taken a position saying you will
absolutely oppose the project," she said in an interview.

"Even if you could put in place processes that protect the environmental review from
the political opinion...the perception of bias in the international community around
investment would be present simply because he's already come out and said there is
absolutely no way he's going to support this."

The NDP could not say how much a separate review process would cost.
Dix acknowledged there would be cost to taxpayers, but he said there is a lot more at
stake financially and environmentally for the province.

Dix acknowledged the federal government ultimately has primary jurisdiction over the
fate of the 1,170-kilometre pipeline that would transport oil sands diluted bitumen from
Alberta to Kitimat for shipping by tanker to Asian markets.

"We have to have an environmental review and have our own certification process in
British Columbia," he said.

"What the federal government does at that point, given that they've accepted we
have some of the jurisdiction, remains to be seen, but we're going to assert our

In June 2010, the provincial and federal governments signed an agreement that allows
either party to withdraw from any National Energy Board environmental assessment of a
project upon giving 30 days' notice.

Dix, who was joined by NDP environmental critic Rob Fleming and constitutional lawyer
Murray Rankin on Wednesday, said he would serve Ottawa the notice within a week in

But when asked whether the outcome of a provincial environmental review can have
the authority to block the project, both Dix and Rankin said it is a matter that a legal
team is going to examine.

"The primary jurisdiction for an inter-provincial pipeline is federal," Rankin said.

"That does not mean, however, there isn't a number of provincial powers that can
come to play in a circumstance like this. A team of constitutional lawyers right now is
trying to analyze just what that would mean."

A spokesman for federal Environment Minister Peter Kent said Kent will not comment on

Environmental advocates say they support Dix's decision, particularly when the federal
government recently implemented budget cuts to the Department of Fisheries and

“The federal budget bill earlier this year gutted the whole federal environmental
process, basically paving the road for pipelines and tankers,” said Karen Wristen of
Living Oceans Society in a written statement.

“The province of B.C. is more than justified in pulling out of the joint assessment
agreement, because the federal process is no longer anything we could call
‘equivalent’ to proper environmental assessment. We will be pushing for a review that
looks at the real risks that B.C. communities are asked to bear by the Enbridge

Dix said he does not expect his proposal will result in strained relations with Ottawa.

"It's my intention to have a business-like relationship with whoever is prime minister,
whether that's Mr. Harper or Mr. (Thomas) Mulcair," he said.

"That doesn't mean we're going to accept everything the federal government says on
every issue."

Last year, a proposal by Taseko Mines (TSX:TKO) to build an open pit gold-copper mine
near Williams Lake was rejected by a federal governmental review, even though the
project was approved by the B.C. government.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency said the New Prosperity mine
proposal did not address fundamental issues central to environmental assessment, such
as water quality and fish habitat.

Ottawa has agreed to hear a second environmental review after Taseko reworks the

Dix did not elaborate either on what the NDP would do if the proposed provincial
review concludes that the Northern Gateway project should go ahead.

"I don't think you set up an independent process to assume the result," he said.

"They're going to review it independently, they're going to hear from British Columbians,
and they're going to issue a report. As a British Columbian myself with strong views on
(the pipeline,) I'd have to take that into consideration.

"My position now is I don't think it's in the economic and environmental interest of B.C."

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GreenWire: New plan in Alberta limits oil development conserves land

23 August 2012

In the biggest move to save Alberta's habitat since the 1920s, the provincial
government has released a plan to pull companies from an industrial development
area and to conserve the land instead.

In the Athabasca regional plan released yesterday, the province said it will protect 3.9
million acres of land in the province's northeast region. Of that, 843,000 acres belong to
oil and gas companies that have paid $29.3 million to explore for oil in the region.
Leases on those regions will be canceled, and companies will begin negotiations with
the province for compensation.

Alberta Environment Minister Diana McQueen said, "Our plan is bold, our plan is
comprehensive," adding that the province "supports economic growth and certainty
for industry."

The regions slated for conservation and recreation will not be touched by oil sands
companies but will remain open to conventional oil and gas resource extraction. No
additional land will be used for that purpose.

The province backed away from previous proposals to turn an additional 77,000 acres
into conservation areas -- a move that oil sands companies strongly opposed.

Critics say the plan does not sufficiently protect the area or the caribou that live there.
Caribou remain the region's most threatened species. The plan protects about 20
percent of the caribou that inhabit the region.

The plan also mandates limits on air and water quality and gives the province power to
cut oil and gas projects that threaten to exceed them. Alberta's Pembina Institute said
those water-monitoring levels are not rigorous enough and fail to look at "major oil
sands pollutants" that could be found in the water (Nathan
Vanderklippe, Toronto Globe and Mail, Aug. 22).

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                                ENVIRONMENT NEWS FROM THE
                                      UN DAILY NEWS
24 August 2012

UN News Centre: United Nations climate fund inaugurates first meeting

A United Nations fund aimed at mobilizing resources to help developing countries
mitigate the impact of global warming has kicked-off its first official meeting, it was
announced today.

Established by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) during the
2011 UN Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, the Green Climate Fund
(GCF) was created to help developing nations protect themselves from climate impacts
and build their own sustainable futures.

However, the GCF could not meet officially until it had filled all 24 seats on its Board,
which effectively governs and supervises all aspects of the Fund.
According to a press release confirming the inaugural session, the GCF will now set about
satisfying its mandate, which includes providing developing countries with simplified and
improved access to climate change funding, as well as providing them support to limit or
reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

The Board inaugurated its first gathering by electing Mr. Zaheer Fakir of South Africa and
Mr. Ewen McDonald of Australia as its Co-Chairs for a one-year term. Mr. Fakir is the Head
of International Relations and Governance of the Department of Environmental Affairs of
South Africa, while Mr. McDonald is the Deputy Director General of the Australian Agency
for International Development, and both boast numerous years of experience in
development and climate change-related issues.

Meanwhile, six countries – Germany, Mexico, Namibia, Poland, Republic of Korea, and
Switzerland – are vying to host the Fund.

The GCF’s meeting will conclude on Saturday, 25 August.

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